Former Chhattisgarh Assembly speaker Dharamlal Kaushik was on Saturday appointed the BJP president for the state. The post got vacant after the previous president Ramsewak Paikra was made the state home minister.
The appointment of Kaushik, a staunch loyalist of Chief Minister Raman Singh, is significant as he defeated the highly anticipated candidate Devji Patel, who had recently been lobbying hard to become the state party chief.
Patel is the lone party MLA in Chhattisgarh with Gujarat origins.
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After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, Patel’s men frequently released advertisements in Chhattisgarh’s newspapers in Gujarati language in praise of Modi.
Patel is also among the few BJP leaders in the state who have openly confronted CM Singh on several counts. He has often raised uncomfortable questions against the state government even in the assembly.
Party headquarters in Raipur was abuzz with the speculation that if Patel became the Chhattisgarh president, the chief minister could lose his grip on the state affairs. Patel was also believed to be hobnobbing with other Raman-baiters including heavyweight minister Brijmohan Agarwal.
However, Singh managed to get Kaushik, who had lost 2013 assembly polls, the top post.
Nevertheless, Singh’s men did not find any other major place in the new BJP team announced by party president Amit Shah on Saturday. Instead, former Durg MP Saroj Pandey was appointed as party general secretary.
Though Pandey does not enjoy much clout in Chhattisgarh politics, she has always maintained a careful distance from Singh and is seen as his potential rival.