Modi’s Jharkhand card likely factor in BJP’s Chhattisgarh CM pick

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With Modi’s Jharkhand outreach giving ample clues, the spotlight now is on the likely choice of the BJP for the post of the chief ministers.

PM Modi at Birsa Munda village

PM Modi at Birsa Munda village

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, December 4: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tribal card in the Assembly elections has paid rich dividends to the Bharatiya Janata Party. Across Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, the BJP coffers swelled by the tribal votes.

The BJP and the Congress bagged 17 and 10 tribal reserved seats in Chhattisgarh respectively. The BJP significantly improved its strike rate on tribal reserved seats in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan also.

With two days for the polling to go in Chhattisgarh, Modi had gone to the village of tribal icon Birsa Munda in Jharkhand to launch Rs 24,000 crore Central scheme for the welfare of the primitive and vulnerable tribal groups. The launch of the scheme for the tribal along with the announcement of the extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna for another five years are being credited to have tilted the balance in favour of the BJP among the tribal vote base.

Almost one month before the states went to the polls, the BJP dropped a big hint of the change in strategy in Jharkhand. After losing power in Jhakhand, the BJP had brought back Babu Lal Marandi as the party’s leader in the legislative Assembly. This was made possible after former chief minister Raghubar Das had lost the Assembly election. Yet, the BJP’s affairs in Jharkhand were dominated by the presence of Raghubar Das, which cast doubt on seriousness of the party to back a tribal leadership.

In a clear message to the tribal vote base, the Modi government picked up Raghubar Das as the governor of Odisha and thus he was retired from active politics. While being only 68 years old, the decision to make Raghubar Das Odisha Governor was seen as a clear tactical move of the BJP to warm up to the tribal vote base in the five Assembly elections.

With Modi’s Jharkhand outreach giving ample clues, the spotlight now is on the likely choice of the BJP for the post of the chief ministers. If the BJP picks up a tribal chief minister, the political observers believe that it could most likely be Chhattisgarh. It may be worthwhile to note that Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah said on the campaign trail that the Left Wing Extremism is almost finished. Being the home minister, Shah may back the idea of installing a tribal chief minister in Chhattisgarh top consolidate gains from crushing the Left Wing Extremism.

With spotlight on a tribal face in Chhattisgarh, the BJP has a choice from a battery of party leaders in the state. Union Minister Renuka Singh is a tribal leader. The BJP had specially fielded her to contest the Assembly election in Chhattisgarh. Ram Vichar Netam, Vishnudev Sai, Lata Usendi, Kedar Kashyap are also among the contenders from the tribal community in the ranks of the BJP in Chhattisgarh.
It is also worthwhile to note that former state chief minister Raman Singh is also hopeful to get another innings in the state. But Singh is 71 years old. The age factor may deny him the chance to become the chief minister of the state one more time. The hard fought gain Chhattisgarh is a message to the BJP to groom new faces in the states to carry the party’s prospects for the next few decades.

Also, in the race if former IAS officer OP Choudhary who is known to close to Amit Shah. The state BJP leader Arun Sao is also hopeful to become chief minister of Chhattisgarh. Former leader of opposition Dharamlal Kaushik is another contender for the CM post. The BJP’s Durg Lok Sabha MP Vijay Baghel is also a CM hopeful. Leader of opposition in the outgoing Assembly Narayan Chandel along with former state minister Ajay Chandrakar are also hoping to gain attention of the BJP’s central leadership.

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