The BJP's selection of mayoral candidates for the upcoming civic body polls seems to be an attempt to develop new leadership in some places, even though the party has relied on the RSS to decide nominees in areas where factionalism could not be contained. In Ratlam, Katni, Burhanpur, Khandwa, Dewas and Singrauli, the BJP appears to have fielded fresh faces with the hope of developing new leadership.
"Candidates in urban body elections depend largely on reservation status of the seat. The party is confident of winning all mayoral contests riding on the Modi-Shivraj popularity wave. We can experiment with candidates and let newer faces come forward," said a BJP leader.
In Gwalior, one of the most prominent municipal corporations going to the polls, the party chose Vivek Shejwalkar over candidates backed by various BJP factions. Vivek, son of Jan Sangh leader Narayan Krishna Shejwalkar, has the support of RSS in the faction-ridden Gwalior unit of BJP, party sources said.
He has served as mayor during 2004-09 and enjoyed a respectable term in office. There are, however, murmurs of protest, especially from the supporters of Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar who were pitching for SADA chairman Jai Singh Kushwaha as mayor. But, with the BJP going by the RSS choice, the party expects factionalism to be contained to a great extent.
In Rewa, the BJP has fielded Mamta Gupta, wife of an income tax lawyer. Public relations minister Rajendra Shukla seems to have prevailed in ensuring a ticket for Gupta.
Locals in Rewa point out that Shukla was keen to make sure that the party does not nominate another Brahmin as that would mar his chances in the extremely caste ridden politics of Baghelkhand region.
In neighbouring Satna, the BJP gave ticket to Mamta Pandey, an old loyalist of Union minister Uma Bharti. With this, it seems Bharti is in a position to ensure tickets for her supporters in the BJP, despite chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan not sharing a good rapport with her. Pandey had left the BJP along with Bharti to join the latter's Jan Shakti Party. Later they returned to the BJP together.
In Sagar, another important municipal corporation, the party has fielded Abhay Durrey. The candidate is said to be close to finance minister Jayant Malaiya who, though from neighbouring Damoh district, keeps a close watch on political developments in Sagar - a town where he has numerous relatives.
Sagar MLA Shailendra Jain also worked hard to ensure a ticket for Durrey, hailing from the goldsmith community and a builder by profession. BJP workers protested outside Jain's house and burnt his effigy to express their dissatisfaction at Durrey's candidature.