Chhattisgarh: Arun Sao among leading contenders for chief minister’s post
Sao started his political career as a volunteer for Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP’s ideological fountainhead Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is set to return to power in Chhattisgarh, contested the latest round of polls without a chief ministerial candidate and under a collective leadership. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the campaign with Arun Sao, 54, being among the leading contenders for Chhattisgarh’s top elected post.
Sao started his political career as a volunteer for Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP’s ideological fountainhead Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He has served as the BJP’s district president, state co-secretary, and ABVP’s National Working Committee member. Sao rose through the ranks after serving as a booth-level worker.
A first-time Parliament member from Bilaspur, he was named the BJP state unit head in November last year.
Former chief minister Raman Singh, 71, a Rajput, is another contender for the chief ministerial post. Singh started his political career in 1984 when he was elected as a councillor in Kawardha. He served as a Madhya Pradesh assembly member in the 1990s before losing the polls in 1998. He defeated former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Motilal Vora of the Congress from Rajnandgaon in the 1999 national polls and became a minister in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. Singh became the chief minister even though the party did not even project him as a candidate for the top post in the 2003 Chhattisgarh polls.
OP Chaudhary, a 2005 batch Indian Administrative Service officer who quit bureaucracy to enter politics in August 2018, is also among possible chief ministerial contenders. He unsuccessfully contested elections in 2018 from Kharasia. Chaudhary managed to win the Raigarh seat with a margin of 34,993 votes against Congress’s Prakash Shakrajeet Nayak.
An influential Other Backward Class leader, Choudhary gained popularity for his education projects during his tenure as a collector.
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