BJP Brass Nurtures New State Leadership After Election Losses
EXPERIMENTING WITH DIFFERENT EQUATIONS In MP, party opts for a Brahmin, Gopal Bhargava, as leader of oppn; in Chhattisgarh, an OBC made opposition leader ‘Chouhan & Raje were keen on assuming role of leader of oppn in MP & Rajasthan, respectively, but wer
New Delhi: After election defeats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the BJP brass is experimenting with different caste equations and nurturing a new leadership, visible in its leader of opposition choices for the three states. BJP sources said Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje were keen on assuming the role of leader of opposition in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, respectively, but were ruled out. In MP, the BJP has chosen a Brahmin, Gopal Bhargava, as the leader of opposition. Since 2003, all three chief ministers of the BJP governments in the state — Uma Bharati, Babulal Gaur and Chouhan — were from Backward Classes.
Bhargava’s choice comes after the huge resentment among Brahmins Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh
and upper castes against the BJP in MP following the Centre’s amendment of the SC/ST (Prevention of
Atrocities) Act to retain status quo, after the Supreme Court ruled that there should be no immediate arrest in cases filed under the Act. Though BJP did wel l in the Vindhya region, where upper castes are present in sizable numbers, the anger over the SC/ST Act is seen as one of the reasons for its defeat. The party has chosen Bhargava to send across a message to Brahmins ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. BJP feels this move, along with 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections in the general category, will help it electorally.
Infighting was one of the major reasons for the BJP’s defeat in Rajasthan. That the party could win 73 seats in the 200 member assembly despite Raje’s conflict with the central leadership has led the party to choose her bete noire Gulab Chand Kataria as leader of opposition. Kataria, as home minister was number two in the Raje government, and is the RSS’ choice. He never got along with Raje and has posed a challenge toherleadershipbytakingoutyatras and defying her time and again. His appointment is an indicator that the RSS and BJP central leadership aim to take on Congress in Rajasthan in the Lok Sabha elections with a new team where Raje will not play a major role. However, Raje’s lieutenant Rajendra Rathore has been made deputy leader of the party in the assemblywhichshowsthatshestillhas a foothold in the party. The party’s is making every effort to mitigate the likely seat loss in Rajasthan where it won all 25 seats in 2014.
In Chhattisgarh, BJP has replaced Thakur leader Raman Singh with Dharamlal Kaushik, an OBC belonging to the Kurmi community. There were allegations that Singh had favoured people of his caste during his ruleandalienatedotherBJPleaders. The party is eyeing the sizable OBC votes in the state and also preparing a counter to Congress CM Bhupesh Baghelwhobelongstothesamecaste.