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Wary of defeat, BJP to field union ministers, MPs in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh & Telangana
Sources suggest the BJP plans to replicate its Madhya Pradesh strategy to field its heavyweight candidates for the underperforming seats in other poll-bound states too
The ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has fielded three union ministers and four MPs in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, with objectives to (1) boost its prospect in those constituencies, (2) mitigate damage from the opposition and various scandals and (3) energise its cadres.
Releasing a second poll-related list on Tuesday, 26 September, the BJP fielded union minister Narendra Singh Tomar from Dimni (Gwalior), Faggan Singh Kulaste from Niwas and Prahlad Singh Patel from the Narsingpur assembly seat.
The BJP’s move springs a surprise, as it is unusual for the ruling party to field union ministers in the assembly polls. Sources are saying that the saffron party, which is becoming unpopular even in the Hindi heartland, has decided to follow the Madhya Pradesh template in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana assembly polls too.
Sources claim the BJP has identified these seats in the poll-bound states as those where its candidates have performed poorly in the last elections. Heavyweight candidates — union ministers and MPs — are therefore being sent into the fray to recover those seats, it has been reported in the media.
In Rajasthan, where the BJP’s quest for power has received a severe blow due to infighting, the saffron party strategists have planned to field Jal Shakti minister and Jodhpur MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, junior parliamentary affairs minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Rajsamand MP Diya Kumari and Jaipur (Rural) MP Rajyavardhan Rathore.
Interestingly, the BJP top brass has decided not to project any chief ministerial candidate in any of the states this time.
However, disgruntled BJP leader and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, who considers herself the heir apparent in Rajasthan, has apparently been 'shunted out' by the BJP high command. It is speculated that Shekhawat, who is seen as Shah’s man in political circle, may be elevated to the top post if the BJP wins.
In Telangana also, if sources are to be believed, it will be four MPs — including Union minister and state chief GK Reddy — in the fray.
Similarly, in Chhattisgarh, the BJP is planning to field minister of state for tribal affairs Renuka Singh Saruta and Lok Sabha MPs Arun Sao and Sunil Soni. Durg MP Vijay Baghel, who is also related to chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, has already been fielded from the Patan assembly seat, which is currently represented by the CM.
Though the full list of candidates for Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana has not been announced yet, sources claim that the BJP top brass have in fact finalised the names and are only waiting for the nod from prime minister Narendra Modi, who is chairman of the BJP’s Central Election Committee.
Apart from the ‘fear factor’, BJP watchers believe that the saffron party has taken the demographics of each constituency into consideration in selecting the contestants for each.