Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an hour-long meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah and finance minister Arun Jaitley on Friday evening and was said to have discussed proposed changes in roles of at least two chief ministers keeping upcoming elections in mind.
Riding high on the party’s performance in the just-concluded assembly polls that made local leaders the face of its campaign, Shah is set to announce his new team over the next few weeks, a move that could be timed with changes in the Union cabinet, too.
With Union sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal set to take over as Assam chief minister on Wednesday, there will be a new face in the ministry.
The party leadership is mulling over the necessity of a change of guard in Gujarat where it will face 18 years of anti-incumbency in next year’s elections.
Chief minister Anandiben Patel met Modi last week to discuss the drought situation in Gujarat. She later denied any discussions about a leadership change in the state.
BJP circles are also abuzz about a new role for Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh but party sources maintained there was no decision yet. There has been a lot of speculation over the fate of some senior ministers but the party and government dismissed that, saying it was the PM’s prerogative.
A list of the BJP’s new office-bearers is ready and could be announced before the party’s national executive meeting on June 11-12. “The changes — both in government and party — will keep forthcoming polls in mind,” a BJP functionary said.
The party has been buoyed by its success in Assam, West Bengal and Kerala. If there was a local face in Assam, the duo of Modi and Shah were not overexposed in West Bengal and Kerala. The party played to the strengths of its local units and restricted itself to overseeing the implementation of its strategy.
The strategy is likely to be at work in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa, too. Uttar Pradesh, where the party has a lot at stake, could be a different case. Modi, an MP from Varanasi, and Shah will have dominating presence in the state but local faces are expected to get their due in the impending changes in government and the party.