The corridors of power in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh are rife with speculation that there is an apparent rift between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The rumours gained currency when PM Modi did not wish Yogi on his birthday on Twitter. Usually, the prime minister makes it a point to extend birthday greetings to all the prominent politicians, even from the Opposition, on the social media platform.
However, according to reports, the prime minister did speak to the UP CM over the phone when called him on his birthday.
The reason behind the alleged rift between the two leaders is claimed to be the prime minister's insistence on inducting his nominee into the Yogi's Cabinet.
The buzz is that PM Modi wanted Yogi to accommodate former Gujarat-cadre IAS officer Arvind Kumar Sharma as the state deputy chief minister. However, Yogi refused to give in to the PM's request and has put his foot down.
Sharma was nominated as member of the state legislative council (MLC) of the UP about five months ago and Yogi feels that it was done to keep a check on him (on Yogi). Hence he has his misgivings about Sharma being promoted as the deputy chief minister.
At present, UP already has two deputy chief ministers - Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya.
The grapevine has it that the Bharatiya Janata Party high command wanted to replace Maurya who is a popular OBC leader. Maurya was offered the post of state president but he conveyed his reluctance. Later, the High Command convinced Dinesh Sharma to step down in favour of the PM's nominee. However, Yogi's stern refusal threw a spanner in the works.
The High Command even asked the UP governor - Anandiben Patel - to convene a meeting with Yogi and bring him around. The sources say that Anandiben held a closed-door meeting with him but failed to convince him.
Yogi has been facing dissidence from a few of his legislators in the state over his handling of the coronavirus. Recently, a Sitapur BJP Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Rakesh Rathore claimed that if he makes too many statements, it may lead to a sedition case being filed against him.
Following this, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) national deputy chief Dattatreya Hosabale met many UP Cabinet ministers and MLAs of the Yogi government to get the feedback. Some of them expressed their displeasure with Yogi's working style and his administrative acumen.
However, given Yogi's popularity among the core voters of the BJP, the RSS and the High Command don't want to get into an acrimonious tussle with him, especially because UP will go to polls early next year.
Hence, efforts are on to diffuse the tension between the two leaders.
On Tuesday, BJP national vice president Radha Mohan Singh summarily rubbished all the reports about the alleged showdown between the PM and Yogi. He also hailed the UP CM as the most "competent person to fulfil PM's dream".
Yogi also made light of the speculations and called them 'media creation'. He claimed that BJP would win the UP elections next year with two-thirds majority.