Even as Jharkhand and J-K prepares for the third round of balloting in the assembly elections scheduled for Tuesday, political circles have started buzzing with likely names for the chief minister’s post. If elected to power, the saffron party could prop up a non-adivasi chief minister in Jharkhand that has more than 26% tribal population, a source in the party said.
The party is sticking to its model of taking the poll plunge without naming CM candidates in the hope to pick preferred contenders from non-dominant communities, a senior BJP leader told HT on Sunday.
In J-K – where the BJP is walking the extra mile to win hearts – there is a subtle campaign for a ‘Hindu chief minister’ in case of the party’s win. It is the only state where the Muslim population is in majority.
“The pre-poll projection of a face from other community comes with the risk of antagonising the dominant group of that state. Once the party gets a clear majority, it becomes easier to elect a leader of choice as the chief minister. This happened in Maharashtra and Haryana and similar is the strategy for Jharkhand and J&K,” the leader said on condition of anonymity.
Three-time chief minister and the BJP’s tribal face, Arjun Munda, faces stiff competition from arch-rival and the BJP’s national vice-president Raghubar Das, an OBC leader from Jasmhedpur. Such a decision would be in line with the party’s recent approach of electing CMs from non-dominant communities.
The BJP recently handed over the top post in Maharashtra to Devendra Fadnavis, a Brahmin, ignoring the claims of leaders from the politically influential Marathas. Similarly, it appointed a Punjabi, Manohar Lal Khattar, as the chief minister in Haryana, a state dominated by Jats.
Union minister Jitender Singh, national executive member Nirmal Singh, and All India Kashmiri Samaj president Moti Kaul are seen as the front-runners for the CM’s post in the Valley.
The BJP has lately been unwilling to take any chances by nominating ‘weak leaders’ for the CM’s post, largely relying on PM Narendra Modi’s popularity and high-intensity campaigning for poll gains.
“Given the image of state that has become hallmark for corruption and political instability, the BJP will be cautious in electing a new CM,” a BJP leader said.