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No consensus in BJP on chief minister candidate in Madhya Pradesh

The reason, BJP leaders say, is a lack of consensus on the name of the candidate who will become the next chief minister. They say this disagreement is the main reason why the legislature party meeting has not been held so far

Updated: Mar 23, 2020 11:02 IST

By Ranjan, Hindustan Times Bhopal

BJP National Vice President Shivraj Singh Chouhan and others comes out after meeting with Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon, at Raj Bhavan in Bhopal, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (PTI)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to stake a claim to form the new government in Madhya Pradesh after Kamal Nath resigned as the chief minister last Friday hours before the Supreme Court-mandated trust vote.

Highlights

Gopal Bhargava, the Leader of Opposition, is one of the aspirants for the chief minister’s post
Former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan appeared as the front runner for the post till Friday
Names of other leaders are also doing the rounds

The reason, BJP leaders say, is a lack of consensus on the name of the candidate who will become the next chief minister. They say this disagreement is the main reason why the legislature party meeting has not been held so far.

It was expected to meet soon after the fall of the Congress government on Friday afternoon when Kamal Nath resigned barely two hours before the floor test he was supposed to face in the state assembly as per the Supreme Court verdict.

Gopal Bhargava is the Leader of Opposition and also one of the aspirants for the chief minister’s post. Once the party decides who will replace outgoing chief minister Kamal Nath, the BJP legislature party will meet to ‘elect’ him as its new leader.



Bhargava had written a letter on Saturday to all BJP legislators appreciating their roles in the legislature party’s fight against the government and how their hard work and dedication strengthened the party and the legislature party.

Also read: From MP, lessons for the two national parties

Bhargava’s letter is being seen as his proactive approach to reach out to MLAs to seek their support in case the party leadership seeks their opinion over the candidate for the chief minister’s post.

Till Friday, former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan appeared as the front runner for the post.

During the political crisis the Congress faced in the state, Chouhan took the lead and continued to attack the government. It was he who filed the petition in the Supreme Court last Monday along with nine other MLAs seeking directions to issue an order to the speaker of the state assembly to conduct a floor test.

“Initially, it appeared as if the party had given Chouhan a free hand to lead the legislature party despite the fact Gopal Bhargava is holding the position and the party outside the assembly. It also appeared that announcement of his name as the new leader of the legislature party was merely a formality,” a BJP leader, who didn’t want to be named, said.

Also read: ‘Failure to take everyone along cost Cong govt’

The leader said the situation, however, seemed to have changed in the past 48 hours due to the lack of consensus in the party on his name.

“That’s why, now the names of Narendra Singh Tomar, Thaverchand Gehlot, both Union ministers, Narottam Mishra, the chief whip of the legislature party, and Kailash Vijayvargiya, the BJP national vice-president, have also been doing the rounds,” the leader added.

He said, “The issue is not only selection for the CM post but also as to who will ensure the party’s victory in the by-polls to be held for as many as 25 assembly constituencies and also lead the party to another victory in the next assembly elections. Hence, there may be surprises too as happened in Haryana and Maharashtra earlier.”

Another leader, who didn’t want to be named, said the names of Narendra Singh Tomar and Narottam Mishra are in the reckoning because by-polls to most of the seats will be held in the state’s Gwalior-Chambal region.

Out of the 22 Congress MLAs who rebelled against the government and brought it down, 15 belong to Gwalior-Chambal region. Tomar and Mishra both come from the region,” this leader said.

He said another reason why a number of party leaders are opposed to Chouhan is that the senior BJP leader had held the chief minister’s post for 13 years and “they have conveyed their feelings to the party high command as well”.

“If he is again given the chance to become the CM, other party leaders and workers who want to see a change this time on the CM post and also in the culture of the government may be disillusioned with the party. And it may have its repercussions,” the leader said.

The BJP’s state unit media in-charge Lokendra Parashar said the names doing the rounds “are all speculations”.

“Whenever the BJP legislature party meets the situation will be clear. Shivraj Singh Chouhan ji himself made it clear in response to questions from journalists that as of now Gopal Bhargava ji is the leader of the legislature party,” Parashar said.

State Congress president media coordinator Narendra Saluja said, “When former MLAs joined the BJP in Delhi on Saturday several leaders of the BJP from Madhya Pradesh were present except Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The mike was also in the hand of Narendra Singh Tomar. This suggests that Chouhan’s dream is going to be shattered.”

Meanwhile, governor, Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon has written to the Speaker of the state assembly NP Prajapati not to take any policy and major decision till the assembly takes up its proceedings on a no-confidence motion against him submitted by the opposition.

He has been advised to let the state assembly’s principal secretary discharge his duties as per his instructions.

The governor’s letter was written after the BJP’s complaint to him that the speaker is taking politically motivated decisions.

The government has also apprised Prajapati of the view of an expert on the Constitution that when a government has been dislodged the speaker and deputy speaker resign from their posts.

Prajapati couldn’t be reached for his comments despite several efforts.

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