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BJP to back its chief ministers in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan

Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh chief ministers will remain at helm in upcoming Assembly elections 2018.

Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018 Updated: Nov 02, 2018 13:17 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP,Madhya Pradesh elections,Chhattisgarh
Combination image of Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to repose faith in its chief ministers in three election-bound states and will face the December poll under their leadership, two senior leaders of the party said.

This comes as a disappointment to those pitching for a leadership change in Rajasthan, lobbying to keep the CM-face undeclared in Chhattisgarh, and nursing chief ministerial ambitions in Madhya Pradesh.

“Change is not under consideration,” the first BJP leader said on condition of anonymity. “Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh are sitting chief ministers and the party will go to poll under their leadership,” the leader added.

The second leader, who asked not to be identified, said Raje, Chouhan and Singh are the most popular faces of the party in their respective states, adding that there are no alternatives with similar stature, even if the party were to consider a change.

“If the BJP has decided to go with them, it is only because they have decided to fall back on its tallest and tested leaders in the state. The party could not have afforded to change leadership on the eve of the election,” Prafulla Ketkar, editor of Organiser, a magazine linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said.

The BJP was confronted with demands to remove Raje as chief minister after losing the Ajmer and Alwar parliamentary, and the Mandalgarh assembly seats to the Congress in the February by-election in the state. Raje survived but her loyalist, Ashok Parnami, was removed as Rajasthan BJP chief.

A decision on Parnami’s replacement is yet to be taken because of differences between Raje and BJP president Amit Shah.

But a party functionary said that Shah would personally monitor and shape the campaign in the state. Shah’s team is already looking for a house for him in Jaipur from where he can direct the campaign, much like he did in the Karnataka election (from a house in Bengaluru)

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP’s failure to snatch Kolaras and Mungoli assembly segments in the bypolls in the state, set off alarm bells in New Delhi with the party leadership deciding to replace state president Nand Kumar Chouhan — a confidant of the CM — with Jabalpur MP Rakesh Singh.

“Chouhan is a powerful OBC leader of Madhya Pradesh, and also a member of BJP’s highest decision making body, the parliamentary board. The party can not discard him like that,” the second leader said.

In Chattisgarh, the government is headed by Raman Singh, the BJP’s longest-serving chief minister (he has been CM since December 2003).

The doctor-politician is a non-tribal, and a section of the party wanted a tribal to replace him after the party appointed Raghubar Das, another non-tribal, as the CM of neighbouring Jharkhand that has sizeable adivasi population.

First Published: Jun 01, 2018 23:25 IST