Ground Reports

Shivraj Singh Chouhan Not The Only Face Of BJP In Madhya Pradesh, These Are The Probable CM Candidates

Nishtha Anushree

Aug 08, 2023, 05:39 PM | Updated 05:36 PM IST

Buzz around Shivraj Singh Chouhan's CMship.
Buzz around Shivraj Singh Chouhan's CMship.
  • Five different leaders including Chouhan will lead the five Vijay Sankalp Yatras in the state.
  • Political observers say that BJP might announce a new CM face after the elections.
  • The assertion that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not going to contest the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections under the sole leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was once again reiterated.

    The reiteration came in a close meeting with the state's top leaders at Union Home Minister Amit Shah's residence in Delhi on Sunday (6 August) night.

    As Swarajya reported earlier, five Vijay Sankalp Yatras are planned in MP in September. However, unlike in 2018, when Chouhan single-handedly led the Jan Aashirwad Yatras, this time five different leaders will lead these yatras.

    Reportedly, Chouhan hesitated in sharing the leadership of these yatras but the party high command rejected his suggestion stating that it would not make any leader of the state its face this time.

    It is expected that in addition to CM Chouhan, the yatras will be led by Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Agriculture Minister and convenor of BJP's MP Election Management Committee Narendra Singh Tomar, party national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, and state BJP president V D Sharma.

    The latest event has fuelled speculations in the political circles of the state that Chouhan will not be made Madhya Pradesh CM after the elections even if the BJP retains power.

    Chouhan is the longest-serving BJP CM with a tenure of over 16 years and while there is a lesser degree of anti-incumbency, there definitely is a fatigue factor with the CM face.

    To defeat this fatigue factor, the BJP wants to bring a new CM face. However, the party couldn't execute this plan ahead of the elections due to the lack of a suitable option as reported by this writer earlier.

    And now it's too late for adoption. Hence, Amit Shah cleared the air before election preparations began by stating that there will be no change in state leadership. However, he was cautious enough to not mention anything about the post-poll scenario.

    Some political observers say that though the BJP couldn't replicate the 'Gujarat model', where the CM was replaced a year before the assembly elections, it will replicate the 'Assam model'.

    In the Assam 2021 elections, BJP didn't announce a CM face ahead of the polls. Himanta Biswa Sarma was elected as the CM post-poll and the then-incumbent CM Sarbananda Sonowal was included in the Modi cabinet.

    While rumours about Chouhan being brought to the Centre have been erupting every now and then for the past few years, it might become a reality at the end of this year.

    A political observer from Jabalpur told Swarajya that given the "hyper-active nature" of Chouhan, the party can make his best utilisation as the national president.

    "If you see the daily schedule of Chouhan, there are multiple events in a day. He can't sit idle. He has age on his side too. He is ready for a bigger responsibility," he explained further.

    While the BJP has already extended the tenure of current BJP national president J P Nadda till June 2024, Chouhan might have a chance after that or a place in the Modi cabinet if BJP retains power in 2024.

    Who Can Replace Chouhan?

    Finding a replacement for Chouhan has been difficult because he comes from Other Backward Class (OBC) community and no other OBC leader can match his stature in the state as of now.

    OBCs form more than half of MP's population which explains their political influence.

    However, despite coming from a royal dynasty Jyotiraditya Scindia is an OBC by caste, as the Scindia surname developed from the Maratha surname Shinde.

    Most of the political observers that this correspondent talked to cited Scindia's name as the upcoming CM. However, some are apprehensive because of his young age and suggest that he might have to wait for a while.

    The other top name in political speculations is Narendra Singh Tomar. While Tomar is well known within the state organisation, his reach as a popular leader among the masses is doubtful.

    Kailash Vijayvargiya is another probable name and some believe that he might be rewarded for his hard work in West Bengal. He is known to be at loggerheads with CM Chouhan.

    V D Sharma and state Home Minister Narottam Mishra are also on the list but their Brahmin lineage decreases their chances of becoming the CM of a state with majorly OBC and Dalit, including tribals, population.

    A surprise entry to this list of probable CM candidates is Damoh MP and MoS Prahlad Singh Patel. He hails from Lodh caste which forms the biggest chunk of the OBC population in the state.

    Patel is a sane voice among state BJP leaders. However, his brother Jalam Singh Patel, who is an MLA from Narsinghpur since 2013, often pulls his image down because of his aggression.

    Khurai MLA and Urban Minister in Shivraj cabinet Bhupendra Singh could also be an option but he is a bad orator and due to his lavish lifestyle doesn't travel across the state. He remains confined to Bhopal and Sagar regions, thus pulling him out of the list.

    Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.

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