Other States

Chhattisgarh BJP appoints new Leader of Opposition

Three-time MLA Narayan Chandel was appointed the Leader of Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly, on August 17. Twitter/@BJP4CGState

Three-time MLA Narayan Chandel was appointed the Leader of Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly, on August 17. Twitter/@BJP4CGState

Three-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Narayan Chandel will be the new Leader of Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly, said the party on August 17.

Mr. Chandel (57) represents the Janjgir-Champa Assembly constituency and has been a deputy speaker of the State Assembly. He comes from the powerful Kurmi caste and replaces Dharamlal Kaushik.

“I am honoured that the party has chosen me to lead the legislative party leader. The goal is clear – to uproot the Congress government led by Mr. Bhupesh Baghel and continue to fight against its policies both inside the House and on the streets,” said Mr. Chandel, after his name was formally announced at the party’s State headquarters, Kushabhau Thakre Parisar.

The announcement was made during a meeting attended by all MLAs, MPs and senior leaders of the State unit. BJP’s state in-charge D. Purandeswari was also present at the meeting.

“Look devoid of past baggage”

The move comes a week after the party appointed new State president, Arun Sao. This signifies the party’s intent of “focusing heavily on the other backward classes (OBC) vote bank” and presents a “fresh look devoid of any baggage or controversies from the past” in a crucial election year, said sources close to the party.

Mr. Sao comes from the Sahu community, which is the largest constituent under the OBC umbrella. Kurmis, a caste from which Mr. Chandel and Mr. Kaushik both come, forming the second-largest OBC vote bank.

“The party is wary of the fact that Chief Minister Mr. Baghel also comes from the Kurmi caste and hopes that having a Sahu-Kurmi combination at the top will consolidate the OBC vote bank. It also assures the smaller [non-Sahu, non-Kurmi ] OBC groups that proper representation would be given,” said a source, adding that more changes in the organisational set up – from the youth wing to women’s wing at the State level – were in the offing.

OBC-centric strategy

With only 14 members in the current Assembly and senior MLAs like Mr. Kaushik or former Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh out of contention, the party had few choices and added an MLA who attended the meeting. Mr. Kaushik was replaced despite being a Kurmi as he came from the same Bilaspur district as Mr. Sao, and the party’s national leadership felt he needed to be more aggressive in taking on the government.

It is learnt that the names of senior MLAs Ajay Chandrakar, and Shivratan Sharma were also discussed. However, since Mr. Chandrakar was appointed as the party’s chief spokesperson recently, it was unlikely that he would make the cut, said the MLA.

Sources further added that the challenge for the party with this OBC-centric strategy would be placating the tribal leadership that constitutes nearly 33% of Chhattisgarh's electorate. Mr. Sao had replaced Vishnu Deo Sai, a tribal. There is also a buzz around appointing a working president post to address this situation.

Meanwhile, following Mr. Chandel's appointment, the Congress, too, accused the BJP of sidelining tribals in the party, asking why it did not choose Nanki Ram Kanwar, a senior MLA and a former minister, as the leader of Opposition. Party State President Mohan Markam also questioned the BJP's move to get rid of the baggage of its 15-year-rule by replacing those close to former CM Raman Singh [Mr. Kaushik is perceived as one of them]. "BJP is being delusional if it thinks that it can make people forget about the misrule and corruption of that regime. They are making an unsuccessful bid at doing away with Dr. Raman Singh's legacy by sidelining some people," said Mr. Markam.

“The party is wary of the fact that Chief Minister Mr. Baghel also comes from the Kurmi caste and hopes that having a Sahu-Kurmi combination at the top will consolidate the OBC vote bank”Source


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 5, 2022 1:40:47 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/chhattisgarh-bjp-appoints-new-leader-of-opposition/article65779950.ece