LUCKNOW: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday appreciated the measures taken by the UP government in battling the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an official statement put out soon after UP CM Yogi Adityanath returned to Lucknow from Delhi. The statement added that Modi complimented the measures taken by the state government during his meeting with the CM.
The meeting between Modi and Adityanath was held against the backdrop of speculation of the BJP leadership’s unhappiness with the CM and a plan to clip his wings. The UP government’s description of what transpired in the hour-long meeting as seen as a riposte to rumour mongers who have stoked murmurs of an “imminent” change in Lucknow, leaving BJP circles simultaneously bewildered and intrigued with their perseverance.
Soon after the meeting, an obscure news site quoted “PMO sources” as saying that A K Sharma, the former bureaucrat who served in Modi’s office before being nominated as an MLC in UP, would be appointed deputy chief minister. When contacted, sources in the PMO slammed the claim as “fake”.
During the meeting, Adityanath expressed gratitude for the Centre’s help during the peak of the crisis. He thanked the Centre especially for rushing oxygen on trains and aircraft. He told the PM that funds provided under PM Cares would help the state government in setting up oxygen plants in all districts.
Adityanath’s engagements in Delhi, which included meetings with home minister Amit Shah and BJP chief J P Nadda, have been linked to the possibility of a ministerial reshuffle in UP. The presence of Anupriya Patel, who heads BJP’s ally in UP Apna Dal, in the meeting that Shah had with the CM, has been seen as a pointer to the expansion of the ministry, likely to be undertaken with a view to assuage the ally and accommodate claims from within.
The official claim about the CM being complimented by Modi was also seen as a sign of Adityanath feeling reassured as BJP leaders are not expected to spin developments concerning the PM.
The “change chatter”, which has buffeted the CM for some time, intensified during the second wave of Covid-19 infections. Statements by BJP general secretary in-charge of party organisation B L Santosh praising the state government for taming the threat brought no respite.
During the meeting with Modi, Adityanath said the Centre’s decision to provide vaccines to the state would help speed up the vaccination drive, which has been put into top gear with BJP’s organisational machinery helping the state government ramp up the massive enterprise.
Adityanath also discussed development work undertaken by his government and projects, which will be completed in the near future. He told the PM how his government tried to strike a balance between saving lives and livelihoods by imposing partial curfews, instead of a complete lockdown.
He informed the PM of the state government’s decision to swiftly implement the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana — entailing free grains up to 5kg to the needy — till Diwali.