The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and incumbent Urban Development Minister, Babulal Gaur, has said that unless the BJP denied ticket to at least four Ministers and a fifth of sitting legislators, the party may face a wipeout in next month’s Assembly elections.
“Four to five ministers and 30 to 40 MLAs have to be dropped. There is data and surveys to show who worked and how popular they are. There are Cabinet Ministers who have won with margins of less than 3,000 votes. They must go,” he said.
Interacting with The Hindu at his residence, soon after meeting the former BJP Chief Ministers, Kailash Joshi and Sunderlal Patwa, Mr. Gaur said anti-incumbency affected everyone, including a nine-time MLA like himself. “If a Minister has done well, re-nominate the person. But those who performed badly as Ministers, MLAs and those who have not kept promises, must be drop
Cabinet Ministers who won with margins of less than 3,000 votes in 2008 include Jayant Mallayya, Anup Mishra, Ramkrishna Kusmariya and Ranjana Baghel. Minister of State with independent charge of agriculture Brijendra Singh also falls in this bracket. Mr. Mallayya and Mr. Mishra — former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s nephew — are being probed by the Lokayukt for corruption.
Mr. Gaur was Chief Minister between 2004 and 2005. He had to make way for Shivraj Chouhan due to resistance from the former Chief Minister, Uma Bharti. He said dropped MLAs who could turn rebel candidates might not do much damage to the party.
“The BJP and the CPI(M) are the only parties where the organisation is stronger than the individual. Our voters choose the party first. A good candidate however can win by a large margin. [The former CMs] Yeddyurappa and Kalyan Singh had to come back,” he said.
Mr. Gaur did not mention his bête noire Ms. Bharti, who split from the BJP in 2006 to form the Bharatiya Janshakti Party, which won five seats in the 2008 polls. In 2011, the party merged with the BJP.
He said law and order and unemployment were the two biggest problems for the government. Unemployment stood at 22 per cent and the State reported the highest incidents of rape in India. Roughly 14 per cent of all rapes in India were reported in Madhya Pradesh.
“The Ratangarh tragedy is going to cost us dearly, particularly in the Chambal. People will ask why the police did not do enough... [Union Minister Jyotiraditya] Scindia is from the region and he has a clean image. The Congress will gain from it,” he said.
Mr. Scindia is heading the Congress’s campaign committee for the Assembly elections. Mr. Gaur said both Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi — who is participating in the campaign here — and Mr. Scindia were vying for the youth vote. There are more than 23 lakh first-time voters in the State.
“This minority-majority business is fiction. Wearing a skull cap or not is immaterial. Mr. Modi will attract new voters to the party, and I don’t see the loss of any vote bank. Mr. Scindia is also targeting this segment and he presents good opportunities for the Congress,” Mr. Gaur said.