With former Chief Minister Raman Singh sidestepping the post of Leader of Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly, the BJP may follow the line in Madhya Pradesh and also ask Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan to give away the post.
On Friday, the BJP appointed Dharamlal Kaushik, the party’s state unit president, as the Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh.
On Saturday, sources in BJP said the post in MP could similarly go to a leader other than former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. “Chouhan has said he is not very keen on the post (of Opposition Leader in Assembly), so the party is likely to choose another leader on Sunday,” a source said. “With the party leadership indicating that it is keen to give the post to someone else (in Rajasthan), Vasundhara Raje may also have to sidestep.”
The BJP has announced that Chouhan will address the OBC rally at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan on February 16, indicating that the party could use him to influence the backward caste community’s votes across the country in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
While Chouhan is expected to take up more responsibilities at the national level, he is keen to have Bhupendra Singh, his colleague in the last state Cabinet, in the Leader of Opposition post, it is learnt. Narottam Mishra, given charge of Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha polls along with two other leaders, is also said to be eying the post. Mishra is considered a favourite of the national leadership.
A bid to give leaders larger role, let fresh leadership grow
BJP’s attempts to appoint new leaders as heads of their legislative parties in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan after losing the polls in the three states is primarily an attempt to give larger roles to these stalwarts without confining them to the state. This will also give the party an opportunity to let a fresh leadership emerge in the states. The move will be seen in the backdrop of some sections in the local units in these states seeking accountability following the party’s defeat.
However, Gopal Bhargava, an articulate leader and former minister, could emerge as a neutral choice as the Opposition leader in Vidhan Sabha, party sources said.
In Chhattisgarh, Kaushik was chosen due to his organisational skills rather than his good relationship with Raman Singh, sources said. A section of the state unit, however, is said to be disappointed with the decision, as the party faced the poll debacle under Kaushik. “Nothing was done to fix accountability (for the defeat),”a party MLA said.
In Rajasthan, the third state where the party lost power, Raje, however, is unlikely to “give up easily”, sources said, as the party had not obliged her choice for state unit president when Madanlal Saini was appointed in June last year. The difference of opinion between Raje and the BJP national readership over the choice of the state unit chief before the Vidhan Sabha polls had delayed the appointment for over two months.
There were indications in the party earlier that the three former chief ministers could be used for “larger causes”.