BJP eyes balancing act, social engineering in its Chhattisgarh picks
As per BJP functionaries aware of the details, the party's senior leadership does not want to ruffle feathers ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
In picking senior tribal leader Vishnu Deo Sai as the chief minister of Chhattisgarh while Arun Sao, an OBC, and Vijay Sharma, an upper caste, as two likely deputy chief ministers, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has stuck to its tried and tested formula of social engineering and attempted to strike a balance between the aspirations of the younger leaders and the expectations of the older lot.
The party might have also signalled how it would address the conundrum of picking the heads of governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Meetings to decide the CMs in the two states will take place on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
To be sure, there is no official confirmation on the names of Sao and Sharma as the two deputy CMs.
According to party functionaries aware of the details, elevating Sai (59), a former three-term state unit chief who was incidentally removed from the post in 2022, is an indication the senior leadership does not want to ruffle feathers ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and has, therefore, addressed caste aspirations and created a balance between the new and the old guard.
“With the three faces representing three communities that matter in the state, the party has conveyed it will walk the talk on social engineering,” a party leader said, requesting anonymity. Social engineering refers to having representation from various castes and communities.
The BJP is hopeful that Sharma’s likely appointment will address the concerns of upper castes growing distant. By appointing Sai, the party also seems to have addressed the long-pending complaint from the tribal communities that they were overlooked for the top post.
“Even though the BJP has given tribal faces a place in the state and Union government, there was a demand for better representation at the state level,” the leader said. Tribals make up for 30.6% of the electorate and OBCs are about 43%.
The developments also indicate that while the party leadership is keen on enforcing a generational shift, it has decided to keep the old guard close. “The party does not want any strain in the state unit between leaders. While there is little chance of dissent, there is always scope of damaging the prospects. Sai is a protégé of Raman Singh, the former CM. He is also an old hand who grew in the party,” a second leader said, also declining to be named.
The leader added the party may follow the same formula of creating an equilibrium of caste and demographic in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where former CMs Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, respectively, are still counted in the race along with a bunch of new faces.
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