The 21 fresh faces among BJP’s 72 candidates for the assembly polls could hint at a possible newcomer as chief minister in case the party comes to power in Jharkhand, political analysts have said.
If lessons from Maharashtra and Haryana are to be learnt, Jharkhand is heading towards an unfamiliar chief ministerial face, preferably someone who has worked in the party at the grass root level, said Prof. Pankaj Prasun, political analyst and director of Centre for Indian Political Research and Analysis, New Delhi.
The analysis, he said, was subject to the condition that the party is able to form the government.
Five-phase assembly elections will begin on November 25 and the BJP is going to the polls with two allies, the AJSU Party and Lok Janshakti Party.
Manohar Lal Khattar, a first-time legislator who had worked at the grass root level to build the pillars of the party in Haryana, was given the chief minister’s chair.
Similarly, Devendra Fadnavis, a former mayor who had never served as a minister before was crowned in Maharashtra.
In fact, the BJP has preferred newbies over experienced leaders and sitting legislators in some of the assembly constituencies in Jharkhand.
A political greenhorn, Jeetu Charan Ram replaced the party’s sitting Kanke legislator Ramchandra Baitha. Besides, Jharia legislator Kunti Singh’s seat was given to her son Sanjeev Singh.
The party has given preference to fresh faces over five of 17 sitting legislators it has in Jharkhand.
“It is evident that they (BJP) will not project a popular face as the CM. Our research shows that the party is focused on giving the chair to a grassroots level worker who had done well for the party,” said Prasun, adding that an RSS factor may also play a role.
Another political analyst, Prof. VP Saran – the retired head of department of political science at St. Xavier’s College, Ranchi – too felt that the BJP’s gameplan was evident from the selection of candidates.
“There are strong possibilities that one of the new faces fielded would be made the chief minister. Amit Shah’s demeanour during his last visit to Ranchi also indicates that the veteran leaders should not take things for granted,” he added.
While the party has not named any chief ministerial candidate for the state and is sticking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the face of the BJP in Jharkhand, leaders in fray for the CM chair have been left guessing.
Since the formation of Jharkhand in 2000, Arjun Munda has served as chief minister for the longest duration during three stints.
Munda, former deputy chief minister Raghubar Das and even Union minister of state Sudarshan Bhagat are in the fray for the CM’s chair.
The BJP leadership, however, refused to comment on the CM candidate.
The party’s in-charge for election affairs and Rajya Sabha MP, Bhupendra Yadav said, “Any question regarding the CM would be answered after the election results are out.”