Owing to a massive drop in number of seats in tribal constituencies, BJP has appointed tribal leader and Member of Parliament (MP) Vishnudeo Sai as the new President of the Chhattisgarh unit of BJP. He succeeded Home Minister Ram Sewak Paikra, who was inducted into the State cabinet last month. Mr. Sai headed the party in Chhattisgarh between 2006 and 2010.

Traditionally, tribal leaders are inducted as State presidents of BJP in Chhattisgarh as the Chief Minister's post is booked for a leader from the upper caste. However, a couple of candidates each from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Other Backward Class (OBC) pitched for the top party job in the State. One of them was former speaker Dharamlal Kaushik, a Kurmi (OBC) from central Chhattisgarh, who was defeated in the Assembly election.

While Mr. Kaushik is close to the Chief Minister, the leadership did not want to upset the tribal electors owing to party’s performance in the tribal constituencies in the October election, according to senior leaders.

In 2008, BJP bagged 18 out of 29 tribal seats in the State, while in 2013 the party got only 11. The most appalling performance came from seven partially Maoist controlled districts of Bastar Division. Out of 11 tribal constituencies in these areas, BJP won in only three. In 2011, the party bagged ten out of 11 seats in Bastar Division. In northern areas BJP did as badly as 2008 and bagged only eight out of 18 seats.

In this context, the party was not too keen to replace a tribal chief (of BJP) with a non-tribal leader and hence Mr. Sai was re-installed, said a MP of the ruling party. Mr. Sai took over as the new chief of State BJP on Wednesday.