Bharatiya Janata Party Vice President Radha Mohan Singh on Tuesday dismissed speculation that Adityanath would be removed as Uttar Pradesh chief minister and claimed that the state government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was “unparalleled”, PTI reported.

Singh and BJP’s National General Secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh were on a three-day visit to state capital Lucknow for review meetings. This is the first time that senior BJP leaders and ministers participated in such meetings since Adityanath became the chief minister in 2017, according to The Indian Express.

This meeting by the top leaders came ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and after the saffron party’s poorer than expected performance in the panchayat elections held last month.

The Adityanath government has faced severe criticism for failing to tackle the second wave of the pandemic effectively, with images of bodies of Covid patients floating in rivers or buried in sand along riverbeds triggering outrage. Several BJP ministers and MLAs have also voiced grievances against their own government.

However, BL Santosh on Tuesday claimed that the BJP government had “effectively managed” the second wave of the pandemic. “In five weeks, Uttar Pradesh reduced the new daily case count by 93%,” he tweeted, tagging Adityanath in his post.

When asked about rumours that the BJP was planning to replace Adityanath and his two deputies, Singh told PTI that it was a figment of someone’s imagination. “Generally, BJP review meetings take place twice a month, but this time there was a gap due to coronavirus,” he claimed. “At the meeting, the ‘seva’ [service] done by us was reviewed. Apart from this, the party’s preparations for a possible third wave of Covid were also discussed.”

The BJP vice president also claimed that Adityanath’s work to contain the virus spread was better compared to other states.

However, an unidentified person told The Hindu that there was lot of unrest within the BJP in the state. “Several MLAs having publicly written to Adityanath on the many ways in which the administration had failed to respond to the pandemic and also the anger among the people with the ruling party,” they said. “Stock-taking is, therefore, important.”