Ground Reports

Three Tasks Of Narendra Singh Tomar In Madhya Pradesh Elections: Chambal, Scindia And BJP Machinery

Nishtha Anushree

Jul 19, 2023, 12:18 PM | Updated 12:18 PM IST

Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to head BJP state poll management in Madhya Pradesh
Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to head BJP state poll management in Madhya Pradesh
  • Tomar comes from the Chambal region which is electorally very important for the BJP.
  • His arrival can also balance Scindia out, whose supporters had taken the place of BJP old-timers.
  • Narendra Singh Tomar on Saturday (15 July) was appointed the convenor of the State Election Management Committee of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh ahead of the assembly elections due this year.

    While his organisational skills make him fit for the role, another task that he has to accomplish is to create a level playing field between the BJP old-timers and Jyotiraditya Scindia's supporters.

    It was being reported for quite some time that there are concerns among party members regarding potential bias toward "Scindia loyalists" who joined the BJP in 2020.

    It was also expected that a cabinet reshuffle will happen before the elections to reduce the number of Scindia supporters from the Chouhan cabinet.

    However, that didn't happen. Hence, Tomar is here.

    Tomar and Scindia, both have an influence on the same region — The Gwalior-Chambal region. The entry of Tomar into MP politics will balance Scindia out.

    While Tomar is making sure to bring Scindia along, for that too is necessary, he is also trying to create BJP's own voter base in the region, rather than just the transferred one.

    When questioned about Scindia's role, Tomar said, "Scindia will take the entire responsibility of his forts — Gwalior and Chambal divisions," assuring him his place.

    Meanwhile, he has also pledged to bring an unexpected change in the region and claimed that BJP will win a majority of seats there.

    In the 2018 elections, BJP could win only seven of the 34 seats in the region, while the Congress won 26, making a comeback in the state after 15 years.

    However, when some Congress MLAs joined BJP with Scindia and by-polls happened for these seats, the BJP tally reached 16, while the Congress came down to 17 and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) remained at one.

    This region is important because the number of seats the BJP gets in this region is proportional to its seats in the state legislative assembly.

    When the BJP won 173 seats in the 2003 elections, its best tally till now in post-division MP, it won 22 seats in the region, that too is its best.

    In the 2008 elections when the BJP got 143 seats, its tally came down to 16 in the region. Again in 2013, when the party improved itself to 165 seats, its tally increased to 20 in the region.

    The BJP's worst performance in recent years in 2018 with just 109 seats, coincided with its lowest tally of 16 seats in the region.

    Union Agriculture Minister Tomar is Lok Sabha MP from Morena for the second time (first time in 2009-2014). In 2014, he was elected MP from Gwalior after having served Gwalior as an MLA for 10 years (1998-2008).

    So he knows the region well. Coming from the Sangh background, he is a grassroots leader. He also has a good connection with the ground workers and holds good influence over the party machinery.

    His entry can uplift the morale of the party workers, especially the old senior workers who were feeling neglected after Scindia's arrival, a BJP worker from the region told Swarajya.

    While balancing Scindia and managing the Chambal region are the first two tasks of Tomar, bringing the house in order is his third task.

    Tomar has served as a cabinet minister in the Madhya Pradesh government and presided over BJP's state unit for more than three years.

    It is believed that the plan is to replicate the success of the 2008 and 2013 assembly polls, during which Tomar formed a strong partnership with MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

    The buzz about rifts among the party leaders was also high in the past couple of years, especially the rift between CM Chouhan and state party president VD Sharma.

    And hence it was being expected that one of the two leaders will be replaced. But after Amit Shah affirmed no change in the state leadership, Tomar's arrival became necessary to bridge the gap.

    When this correspondent called VD Sharma, he didn't receive the phone call. However, another BJP leader Rahul Kothari told Swarajya that the move is not focused on decreasing the stature of Sharma.

    "BJP has an old tradition of appointing election in charge" and Tomar's appointment should not be viewed otherwise, Kothari said. He praised Tomar's skills in bringing cooperation among leaders.

    Kothari assured that Tomar will work together with CM and the state president and lead the BJP to victory in Madhya Pradesh.

    The appointments of Union Ministers Bhupender Yadav as the state election in-charge and Ashwini Vaishnaw as co-in-charge also hold importance.

    Yadav is known to be a master strategist and is credited for BJP's recent victory in the Gujarat assembly elections where too he was election in-charge.

    The three union cabinet ministers working on Madhya Pradesh elections signify its importance for the BJP.

    While Scindia too is a cabinet minister and from MP but has not been given any position for the state elections, this indicates that he will be kept at the centre and out of state politics for some time now.

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

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