BJP zeroes in on heartland CMs

Another battle lies ahead for the BJP top brass, which is to name the chief ministers for the three states

New Delhi: The “semi-final” before the 2024 electoral battle is over with the BJP registering stunning wins in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, whose mandate is expected to boost the party’s chances in the general election. However, another battle lies ahead for the BJP top brass, which is to name the chief ministers for the three states. In at least two, the central leadership has always been wary of factionalism.

While former chief minister Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan, incumbent CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh and former CM Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh are said to be the top contenders for CM in their respective states, there is also some talk of the BJP top brass likely to go with “new faces” to counter “voter fatigue” and factionalism and also to usher in a new leadership. Speculation is rife in Madhya Pradesh that the BJP will name its CM candidate keeping in mind the caste factor and for the first time could also name a deputy CM to “adjust” the caste arithmetic and “maintain a balance” within the state organisation. The names of Union ministers Prahlad Patel, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Narendra Singh Tomar, along with Kailash Vijavargiya, among others, are also doing the rounds for the CM post.

Interestingly, in Rajasthan, where Ms Raje is seen as a front-runner for the post, MLAs have been going to her residence since morning as part of “sishtachar bhent” (courtesy visit). More than 40 MLAs are said to have met Ms Raje. While in political circles, it was seen as a show of strength by Ms Raje, a senior BJP leader from the central team said “no matter how senior someone is, he/she will have to abide by the decision taken by the leadership from Delhi”.

The names of Diya Kumari, Balaknath Yogi, Acharaya Balmukand, Union minister Gajendra Shekhawat, among others, are also doing the round for the top Rajasthan post.

In Chhattisgarh, where the poll result left many party leaders “surprised”, the names of Union minister Renuka Singh, Rajya Sabha MP Saroj Pandey, state unit chief Arun Sao, former chief Vishudeo Sai and Lata Usendi are also doing the rounds for the top post.

In New Delhi, the BJP top brass started consultations over the CM issue. Senior leaders from the states, also including Rajasthan unit chief C.P. Joshi and state in-charge Arun Singh, among others, met the BJP top brass. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president J.P. Nadda, Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh and general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh held a meeting late on Sunday evening to discuss the issue. Speculation is rife that the BJP parliamentary board could meet soon to give its stamp of approval on the CM faces in the three states and then the BJP legislature party in the three states will formally approve the name. The party will also be sending observers to the three states to oversee the legislature party meetings.

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