BJP’s CM picks for three States will be pointer to shape of its politics ahead

The BJP’s bid for collective leadership under the common umbrella provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal was expected to make the situation easier for the BJP once the need arose to pick the Chief Minister.

December 07, 2023 09:09 pm | Updated December 08, 2023 10:58 am IST - NEW DELHI

File photo of BJP leaders Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

File photo of BJP leaders Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Suspense continued to prevail over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial picks in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh on a day when Telangana saw its first Congress government take oath in Hyderabad.

Amid the chatter about who all are in the race to be Chief Ministers in these States, two big themes have become clear, especially in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan – the desire of the central leadership of the BJP to effect a generational change in these States, and the still considerable influence among MLAs and party organisation of old satraps Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje.

The BJP’s bid for collective leadership under the common umbrella provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal was expected to make the situation easier for the BJP once the need arose to pick the Chief Minister. If Ms. Raje and Mr. Chouhan were not the faces that the party projected through the elections, logic demands that they are not the choice, but the nature of the mandate in these two States has muddled the issue.

Also Read: Role of the leadership factor in the Rajasthan verdict

“In Rajasthan, many Raje loyalists have won, as we saw from the parade of at least 30 MLAs a couple of days ago at her residence in Jaipur. Even the BJP rebels who won are Vasundhara Raje loyalists. Leaders like Satish Poonia and Rajendra Rathore who had been challenging her organisationally have lost the election. In Madhya Pradesh the big victory is being jointly attributed to PM Modi and CM Chouhan’s Laadli Behena scheme,” said a senior office-bearer of the BJP.

Ms. Raje made her way to Delhi on Thursday for deliberations with the senior leadership as central observers will be appointed to speak to the legislature party in the State on Friday. She had met BJP president J.P. Nadda on Thursday evening. Members of Parliament who had won the Assembly election in Rajasthan have resigned and many names are being suggested as probables for the Chief Minister’s chair, including Union Ministers Arjun Ram Meghwal, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, and a new entrant in today’s sweepstakes, Ashwini Vaishnaw.”

In Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Chouhan kept up the frenetic pace of his election campaign even after a massive victory, launching what he called “Mission 29” or preparations to win all 29 Lok Sabha constituencies in Madhya Pradesh. The Laadli Behena scheme of income-support for women homemakers was being given a lot of credit for the BJP’s victory, something newly elected MLA and BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya talked down. Stating that the name of the new Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh would be clear by Sunday, he said that the BJP’s victory was all due to Mr. Modi’s appeal and not Laadli Behena. “Was there Laadli Behena in Chhattisgarh, where also we won?” he queried.

The most unexpected victory in Chhattisgarh is leading to a smoother ride with regard to choosing a Chief Minister as far as BJP is concerned. Here, former Chief Minister Raman Singh had long written himself out of the race. “Here, we need to make the choice between a tribal or OBC Chief Minister and there are good candidates in both categories,” said a source. Former Union Minister Vishnu Deo Sai, current Union Minister Renuka Singh, former bureaucrat O.P. Choudhary and State BJP president Arun Sao are frontrunners here.

Also Read: Congress takes swipe at BJP for not announcing CMs in three States yet

The long deliberations in order to finalise choices for Chief Ministers are pointing to fact that the name chosen will be, like in Uttarakhand with Pushkar Singh Dhami and in Goa with Pramod Sawant, a pointer to BJP’s politics in the next few years.

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