BJP’s discussions on Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan CMs enter last phase
On Sunday, the party picked Vishnu Deo Sai as the chief minister for Chhattisgarh.
The deliberations in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to pick chief ministers for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan appeared to enter the last leg as its central observers looked set to reach the two states on Monday to oversee the selection of leaders of legislative parties, people aware of the matter said on Sunday.
There is little clarity on the names of the two new chief ministers although there have been hectic behind-the-scenes parleys within the BJP all through last week. On Friday, the BJP appointed Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, national secretary Asha Lakra and Rajya Sabha MP K Laxman as observers for Madhya Pradesh. Union minister Rajnath Singh, party general secretary Vinod Tawde and Rajya Sabha MP Saroj Pande were picked to oversee the process in Rajasthan.
The BJP’s newly elected Madhya Pradesh MLAs will meet in Bhopal on Monday to elect the leader of the legislative party, people aware of the matter said. The BJP retained power in MP in the November 17 polls, winning 163 seats in the 230-member assembly, leaving the Congress a distant second with 66 seats.
According to an official letter by state general secretary Bhagwandas Sabnani, the legislative party meeting will begin at the party office in Bhopal at 3.50pm on Monday. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a party leader said that the observers will hold one-on-one meetings with senior state leaders and legislators. “We are excited about the meeting and will agree with all the decisions of the organisation. I know that BJP always work for the tribal community and this time too, they will be one of the priorities of the state government,” party MLA and tribal leader Sampatiya Uike said.
Saying that the new state cabinet will carry a sizeable tribal representation, senior leader and outgoing minister Om Prakash Dhurve said: “In the new cabinet, tribal leaders will get a good opportunity to work for the welfare of tribal and others.”
The BJP did not name a CM face in the run-up to the elections. Its gambit of using collective leadership led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to steer its campaign reaped dividends as the party won the polls by a record margin.
Apart from incumbent Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the aspirants’ list for the CM post includes former agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and former culture minister Prahlad Patel, the two MPs who contested the assembly elections and won. Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, too, is a popular leader from the state who delivered the key Gwalior-Chambal region to the party though he did not contest the assembly polls.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior party leader said: “There are at least 5-6 senior leaders who are in the CM race. There is also talk of whether the party will appoint two deputy chief ministers similar to Uttar Pradesh.”
In Rajasthan, where the BJP ousted the Congress by winning 115 of the 199 seats that went to vote, the legislative party meeting is likely to be held on Tuesday, people aware of the matter said. The names doing the rounds for the chief minister’s post include those of former CM Vasundhara Raje; three MPs who have resigned, Baba Balaknath, Diya Kumari, and Kirodi Lal Meena. Even the names of Union ministers Arjun Ram Meghwal and Ashwini Vaishnaw, both from Rajasthan, have come up. On Sunday, around 10 MLAs held a meeting with Raje. “Given the dismal economic and law and order situation in Rajasthan, the state needs a strong and experienced face. Raje is the only experienced face in Rajasthan at this time. The people also feel Raje should be CM,” party leader Prahlad Gunjal said.
State unit chief CP Joshi brushed aside speculation that multiple claimants for the top post were delaying the process to name the CM. “Once the legislature party meeting is held, the speculation around our CM will end. There is nothing wrong with having multiple candidates. All the contenders are deserving candidates,” news agency ANI quoted him as saying.
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