Is Amit Shah planning to do away with Shivraj ahead of MP state polls?

A file photo of BJP President Amit Shah with Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan

BJP President Amit Shah is of the view that Shivraj Singh Chouhan shouldn’t be made as party’s face in the upcoming polls. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh is facing a severe anti-incumbency wave. Therefore, current chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will not be the party’s face for the next elections. Besides, at least 130 of BJP’s sitting MLAs may as well not get a shot at re-election in the upcoming state polls towards the year end. And Congress shouldn’t be taken lightly. These are few of the observations that were conveyed by party president Amit Shah to state’s leaders during his recent visit to the state.

Amit Shah’s message has caused a panic in the state’s BJP unit. New formulae are being thought over to draw people towards the party. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has also announced several populist schemes, viewed as an exercise in damage control.

The BJP, in fact, has realised that the possibilities of the party’s win in Madhya Pradesh are quite grim. Shah has been visiting the state frequently for last few months. During each of his previous three visits, Shah made it clear that this time the election will be contested on the party’s name and not Shivraj, the three-term chief minister.

On Tuesday, a party meeting was held in Jabalpur where Amit Shah was also present. During the meeting, all the issues on which the opposition had been attacking the government were taken up. According to sources, Shah clearly said during the meeting that people of Madhya Pradesh were very unhappy with the state government’s performance.

Therefore, it is paramount that all those issues be dealt with properly which may be raised by the opposition. He emphasised on the need to appease the farmers, traders and tribal communities.

It is to be noted here that it is the same Shivraj Singh Chouhan on whose name the BJP contested and won state elections in 2009 and 2013. Shivraj too surprised everyone during a programme by saying “My chair is vacant, whoever wants to can sit here.”

The anger of the people of their constituencies have been constantly in the news. During a convention of the party workers on May 4, Amit Shah had already made it clear that this time election in MP will be contested not on a particular face but on the party’s name.

It is to be noted here that it is the same Shivraj Singh Chouhan on whose name the BJP contested and won state elections in 2009 and 2013. Shivraj had surprised everyone during a programme as he had said, “My chair is vacant. Whoever wants to could sit on it.” The buzz doing the

This is also being discussed that either Shivraj will be asked to step down before election or two deputy chief ministers may be appointed to woo the tribal community.

There were news reports last year highlighting the internal survey by the RSS which indicated that there is a strong resentment against the BJP government of Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, the way Congress has built up its team in the state has further aggravated BJP’s problems.

But the major problem for the BJP is its internal politics. It is well known to the state BJP that Shivraj is among very few of its leaders who are very grounded. If the BJP wins again under his leadership in the state, he will emerge as a very strong leader and may soon pose a challenge to the leadership at Centre. So, Amit Shah has sent out the message of contesting the election in the party’s name only.

Although politics is a game of uncertainties but the way the central leadership of BJP is pressurising the Madhya Pradesh, BJP leaders instead of encouraging them, it seems the party itself wants to be defeated in the state elections and if at all it wins, the leadership doesn’t want Shivraj Singh Chouhan to steal the show.

(Translated into English by Pragati Saxena)

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