New Delhi, July 4: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked party colleagues not to speak out of turn to journalists but use the social media instead for public outreach. The diktat has failed to insure against gaffes.
A premature announcement about BJP senior Kalyan Singh being appointed Bengal governor — on minister Nitin Gadkari’s Facebook page —left the government squirming today because no such decision had been taken.
“The purported information sounded authentic because it seemed to have come from a senior minister who is privy to most internal deliberations and outcomes,” a source said.
For the past few weeks, it was being speculated in the BJP that Kalyan might be sent to Calcutta as M.K. Narayanan’s successor.
The Facebook post, also uploaded this evening on Gadkari’s Twitter handle, congratulated Kalyan on becoming the next Bengal governor, wished him well and thanked home minister Rajnath Singh for the “quick decision”. The post came with a picture of Gadkari and Kalyan at an election rally.
Also uploaded was a photograph of Gadkari in conversation with Rajnath on July 1. The relaxed atmosphere gave the impression that the duo were having a freewheeling chat.
After Rajnath’s office was flooded with queries seeking confirmation of Kalyan’s “appointment”, sources said, the home minister called Gadkari and asked why such a post had surfaced.
Gadkari apparently denied its authorship and attributed it to a “mischief-monger” in his office.
Rajnath asked him to pull the Facebook post and the tweet off. Gadkari did so with the explanation that “the previous few tweets that appeared on my time line are baseless and do not reflect my opinion”.
A Twitter follower of Gadkari commented: “Just before some time some tweets (appeared). One of them said Kalyan Singh as West Bengal Governor. Congrats. Internal news.”
The same tweeter later posted: “Lets see that becomes truth or not.”
A source close to Rajnath said: “There is no proposal to appoint Kalyan to such and such state. No file has moved on the appointment of governors.”
A Kalyan aide, asked about Gadkari’s announcement, shot back: “What Facebook? This talk based on some book or the other is rubbish. ‘Baoji’ (as his followers call him) has no intention of moving out of Uttar Pradesh.”
Sources said the BJP was still assessing the “gains and losses” to be had by shifting Kalyan to a Raj Bhavan.
“When Uttar Pradesh next goes to the polls, Kalyan will be an asset because he pulls in the votes of his Lodh-Rajput community. We have no comparable leader from that caste,” an Uttar Pradesh BJP official said.
The party had tried to prop up Uma Bharati — also from the Lodh-Rajput community — as an alternative to Kalyan.
“But her heart is still in Madhya Pradesh. She has not really connected with the people of Uttar Pradesh,” the party official said.
Besides, some in the Uttar Pradesh unit appear resentful of the ease with which “outsiders” like Modi and Uma have adopted the state as their political home.
“At least Modi has conferred VVIP status on Varanasi. Uma has done nothing for Bundelkhand,” a source said.
“If we move out leaders like Kalyan Singh and Lalji Tandon who had nurtured the BJP in the state from the beginning, our cadres will not like it.”
However, some sources said, Kalyan is still being persuaded to accept a governorship with the promise that his son Rajveer, elected from Etah, would be inducted in the ministry in the next rejig.
Modi had been keen to hand a berth to Rajveer in the first round itself but was pressured by the Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to appoint Uma.
B.V. Wanchoo today resigned as Goa governor following a call from Union home secretary Anil Goswami this morning, PTI reported.