Rift among MP’s BJP leadership causes Central leadership to take command

Political observers have said that the interference of the Bharatiya Janata Party central leadership was not to such an extent during 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan with BJP state president V.D. Sharma (Photo: NH Library)
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan with BJP state president V.D. Sharma (Photo: NH Library)


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in Madhya Pradesh have very much comprehended that the Central leadership has taken full command over the assembly elections slated for end of this year owing to rift among the state's top leadership and anti-incumbency against nearly two decades of rules.

The state-based party workers have also started contending that the role of state in-charge Murlidhar Rao, MP unit president V.D. Sharma and more importantly also of the longest-serving Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who won two consecutive assembly elections -- 2008 and 2013 -- single-handedly due to his charismatic leadership and welfare schemes.

Political observers said forget about the elections in 2008 and 2013, the interference of the Central leadership wasn't at such extent during the last assembly elections in 2018 and the state unit BJP fought the elections on its own, however, it failed to gain majority with just 109 seats against 114 of the Congress, despite the saffron side received 0.1 per cent more votes than the grand old party.

It is not just the anti-incumbency or growing perception of face-fatigue of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that prompted the central leadership of the BJP to take over full command just four months before the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh.

Insiders aware of the development said: "The BJP government and organisational leadership are running in different directions. The rift between CM Chouhan and state unit head V.D. Sharma is in public domain now. While, state in-charge Murlidhar Rao, wied to fix the things his own way, however, he also could not do much to impress the party's ground level cadre."

Sources said the Central leadership instructed MP BJP unit multiple times to keep their personal rifts aside till the elections, however, it continued to grow instead and sensing that the Union Home Minister Amit Shah appointed his two ministers -- Bhupendra Singh Yadav and Ashwini Vaishnaw -- both hail from neighbouring state Rajasthan.

Later state's seniormost leader and Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who has been president of the Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP, has been sent to Bhopal as the election convenor.

"All organisational decisions are being taken by Bhupendra Singh Yadav and Ashwini Vaishnaw is assisting him. State BJP president V. D. Sharma has remained just a face, while CM Chouhan is running his government on his own and is very much reliant on welfare schemes and promises being made ahead of the elections. State in-charge Murlidhar Rao's role has also not much to do now," a senior MP BJP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.

What surprised BJP workers in Madhya Pradesh more is that the mild-mannered CM Chouhan, who once had the reputation of being an amenable "Mamaji (maternal uncle)", across communities and even was briefly talked about as a Prime Minister contender when the BJP was looking beyond L. K. Advani, is now apparently not having the confidence of his own cadre.

A couple of senior journalists, who have been watching Chouhan's politics for nearly three decades, were of the view that he faced many challenges in his long political career, but the situation for him wasn't like today.

"Who ever challenged his leadership or did not follow his instructions was sidelined from the party, for instance, Prabhat Jha, Kailash Vijayvargiya and some more. Why could't Shivraj Singh Chouhan convince Central leadership to V. D. Sharma as state unit president despite much of his efforts?" a veteran journalists asked.

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