Wednesday, October 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Rajnath to replace Gupta as UP CM
Tribune News Service and Agencies

NEW DELHI, Oct 24 — Union Surface Transport Minister Rajnath Singh will take the oath of office as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh at Lucknow on October 28.

This was disclosed by Mr Rajnath Singh in an informal chat with newspersons at his residence here. Loktantrik Congress Party chief Naresh Agrawal was also present on this occasion.

Mr Rajnath Singh later left for 7 Race Course Road to meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee before leaving for Lucknow. He is expected to leave for Lucknow tonight or tomorrow morning.

To a question, Mr Rajnath Singh said the post was not a “challenge for him” as he was well aquainted with the problem of Uttar Pradesh.

Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party president Bangaru Laxman said Mr Ram Prakash Gupta had been relieved of his responsibility as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in deference to his desire and perception that he was not doing justice to the job.

According to a statement, the BJP UP Legislatute Party will meet tomorrow forenoon to elect a leader. General Secretary Narendra Modi who would attend the meeting as observer would leave for Lucknow late this evening.

Mr Laxman told reporters Mr Gupta had been pressing to be freed of his responsibility and the announcement of a change of guard in UP came after discussions over the past 15 days.

The BJP president, in response to a query whether the party had decided upon Surface Transport Minister Rajnath Singh as Mr Gupta’s successor, said the UP BJP Legislature Party will elect its leader tomorrow.

State president of Bharatiya Janata Party Kalraj Mishra told UNI shortly after his return from New Delhi that Mr Rajnath Singh was likely to be sworn in after Divali. Mr Mishra said he had met the party high command in New Delhi earlier in the day.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister L.K. Advani formally told the state party chief of this decision in the national Capital this morning.

Mr Mishra said Mr Gupta had himself expressed his desire to step down owing to age-related problems. He said unsuccessful efforts were made to persuade Mr Gupta to take back his decision.

He informed that the final modalities about change of guard in the state would, however, be decided in a day or two. The BJP Legislature Party would meet tomorrow to formally elect its leader.

The decision to replace Mr Gupta by Mr Rajnath Singh was taken on October 18 in Mumbai where the Prime Minister, was convalescing at Beach Candy hospital, sources said.

Concerned at the deteriorating political fortunes of the BJP in the biggest state, Mr Vajpayee had summoned Mr Gupta, Mr Rajnath Singh, the BJP state unit president, Mr Kalraj Mishra, and the Urban Development, Minister, Mr Lalji Tandon, to the hospital for a detailed discussion on the situation in the state and an understanding to remove Mr Gupta was taken.

Experts said it would be very difficult even for Mr Rajnath Singh to revive the fortunes of the party at this stage now. Moreover, the BJP allies like the Loktantrik Congress Party (LCP) would raise new demands.

The LCP leader, Mr Naresh Agarwal, went to Mumbai to meet Mr Vajpayee. While Mr Agarwal wanted to dissuade the Prime Minister for replacing Mr Gupta but the LCP leader could not even meet Mr Vajpayee.

Mr Gupta, who was made the Chief Minister as a compromise candidate after it was decided to replace the former state Chief Minister, Mr Kalyan Singh, served the state for about a year.


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