BJP's CM dilemma: Old guard or new blood in 3 states?

Synopsis

Out of the three states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, BJP has won back power in two while retained its government with a bigger margin in Madhya Pradesh making incumbent chief minister Shivraj Chouhan a strong contender for the top post.

BJP crosses majority mark in Madhya Pradesh, set to form government with landslide victoryANI

BJP’s resounding victory in elections without naming a chief ministerial face has given the already powerful central leadership of the saffron party a free hand in selection of the chief minister in the three states.

Out of the three states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, BJP has won back power in two while retained its government with a bigger margin in Madhya Pradesh making incumbent chief minister Shivraj Chouhan a strong contender for the top post.

In Madhya Pradesh, it would be difficult for BJP to overlook Chouhan’s achievements as CM and an efficient campaigner. When asked about Chouhan’s prospects, a top BJP leader said, “Neta toh wohi hain (He is the leader).” Chouhan, who belongs to the OBC community, is likely to be appointed as chief ministed again in Madhya Pradesh.

Though no chief ministerial face was projected, BJP’s Old Guard in the states – Vasundhara Raje Scindia in Rajasthan and Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh – also played their part in the party’s victories. Now it is for the BJP’s centralleadership to go for change with a younger leadership or choose continuity over change till 2024 LS polls.

  • All
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Rajasthan
  • Telangana
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Mizoram

According to BJP sources, the main factor in choosing chief ministers in the three states would be to keep up this momentum till 2024 by balancing various votebanks and caste equations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on “four main castes” – the poor, women, youth and farmers – could play out in this exercise. Sources indicated that the BJP could appoint deputy chief ministers in all three states to balance the caste equations carefully and give an even representation.

In Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh’s experience and leadership could push his case but his age and caste may become hurdles. BJP sources indicated that the party could favour a chief minister from the numerically-strong and politically significant OBC community.

BJP could look for an OBC chief minister and a tribal deputy chief minister. The names that could be considered include BJP Chhattisgarh unit chief Arun Sao (an OBC from Sahu community), Union Minister Renuka Singh Saruta (a tribal leader) and MP Gomti Sai (tribal). Other names include former IAS and OBC leader OP Chaudhary, former Rajya Sabha MP Ramvichar Netam (tribal) and former minister of state Vishnu Deo Sai.

In Rajasthan, the victories of loyalists has put two-term chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia back in the game. This was the first time in two decades that Scindia had not been projected as a CM candidate and had, in fact, been sidelined. With the victory a majority of the 45-odd candidates she had campaigned for and loyalists who had fought as independents, Scindia is back as the frontrunner.

The party may not want to upset her before the 2024 elections. Another section is pushing for change and favouring Diya Kumari another royal. Union ministers Gajendra Shekhawat, Arjun Ram Meghwal, and Mahant Balaknath are being talked about as probables. Meghwal is an SC and Balaknath a Yadav, the largest OBC community in Hindi-speaking states. Many leaders in party believe LS Speaker Om Birla, a three-term MLA who enjoys the trust of the party leadership, could also be a natural contender.

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William Murphy

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