In signs of early preparation for the upcoming Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the BJP’s Central Election Committee (CEC), of which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a member, held a review meeting for these States with particular focus on seats where the BJP was vulnerable or where the opposition Congress was stronger. The early CEC meet also signalled the BJP national leadership’s intention to involve itself in a micro way in strategising for these polls.
The CEC meeting was attended by Unoin Ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, and chaired by BJP president J.P. Nadda. It was also attended by State in-charges like Union Ministers Bhupendra Yadav, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Mansukh Mandaviya, as well as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Madhya Pradesh BJP chief V.D. Sharma and former Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh.
The party’s decision to hold the meeting so early — the CEC usually meets only after poll dates are announced — underlines the significance it has attached to five State elections — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram — with similar meetings being lined up for States that have been left out of this round. These States are considered especially important as they are the last round of Assembly polls before the Lok Sabha polls next year.
Grades of seats
Sources at the meeting confirmed that the BJP has graded seats in terms of past electoral record and strength of party organisation there. “For example, an ‘A’ category seat is where the party [BJP] has been winning consistently, ‘B’ category seats are those that have been lost once or twice in the past, ‘C’ category seats are those where the party has lost more than twice and ‘D’ category seats are those never won by the BJP,” said a senior leader. For Chhattisgarh, sources said, the BJP has decided to set up a panel for assessing candidates for 27 seats, 22 of ‘C’ category and five belonging to ‘D’ category.
In 2018, the BJP had lost all the Assembly polls, with losses in the Hindi-speaking belt, a large catchment area for the party being particularly hurtful to the party.