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Swatantra Dev Singh, Shah’s go-to man, new UP BJP chief

Singh is a Kurmi, one of the influential backward castes in the state.
New Delhi: BJP national president Amit Shah on Tuesday named Uttar Pradesh transport minister Swatantra Dev Singh as the new state BJP president, replacing Mahendra Nath Pandey who is now a Union minister.

Singh has been a go-to man for Amit Shah in the state BJP for the past five years. A Kurmi by caste, he fits in BJP’s plan to strengthen its presence among OBC community in the state.

UP chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath had a meeting with Shah and BJP working president J P Nadda in Delhi on Monday regarding the announcement of a new state BJP president.

Singh has worked at the grassroot level within BJP and has strong hold over party workers across the state, party insiders said. He became Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) state president in 2001, and worked in every district of the state in that capacity, developing a close bond with BJP workers. Thereafter he became the state BJP general secretary for three consecutive terms.

Born in Mirzapur, Singh later shifted to Jalaun in Bundelkhand along with his brother. In 2012, he contested assembly elections from Kalpi in Urai, Bundelkhand and lost it.

His big day came when he was made the in-charge of Narendra Modi’s rallies in UP during the 2014 elections. His network among workers and organising skills caught the attention of Modi and Shah, party insiders said. His advice on candidate selection on 19 Lok Sabha seats of Bundelkhand proved crucial and BJP won all the seats. In 2017 he again played an important role in state assembly elections and was one of the CM contenders.

Shah has also used Singh as election in-charges of states including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. In the recently held Lok Sabha elections, Singh was an in-charge of MP, and he worked hard especially in Guna where BJP defeated Jyotiraditya Scindia. This improved his chances of getting promoted within the organisation, party insiders said.
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