The ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh will drop a considerable number of its sitting MLAs and will not repeat some of the candidates who had lost in the 2013 Assembly elections, sources told The Sunday Guardian. This is being seen as the party’s strategy to overcome anti-incumbency in a state it has been ruling since 2003.

Senior party sources, who are involved in managing the party’s affairs in Madhya Pradesh, said that there was a fair amount of negativity and anger in certain regions of the state against the local MLAs which, the party feels, can be managed by changing candidates.

“The anger is not against the party but with the individuals. In general, the people of the state are happy with Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He is the face of the party and he is very powerful and popular now. But people are not happy with some of our MLAs. This was revealed in multiple internal surveys that have been conducted recently. One-third of the sitting MLAs or more will not be given tickets this time as they have not performed well despite being given a free hand. We are going to bring in new faces in most of these seats as we have successfully been able to develop the next generation of leaders in many constituencies,” a senior party leader said.

In the 230-seat MP Assembly, the BJP had won 165 in the 2013 polls.

Even in 2013, CM Chouhan had denied tickets to 45 previous MLAs. Source said the CM will have a major say in the distribution of tickets this time, too.

BJP strategists feel that with the popularity of Chouhan not being dented in the last five years, the party can counter anti-incumbency by changing the local faces.

“The party workers are happy with Shivraj Singh Chouhan but they are angry with certain MLAs and, hence, we will be changing at least 35-45 faces. Some of the MLAs have been resorting to corrupt practices which has caused a lot of negativity, especially among the urban voters,” another senior party leader said.

Chouhan’s plan to deny tickets to some of the sitting MLAs is likely to be approved by the party’s central leadership.

The BJP, following its review of the Gujarat election results, is of the view it should have dropped more sitting legislators in Gujarat as well. In Gujarat, the BJP repeated 148 candidates who had contested the 2012 Assembly elections while denying tickets to only 34 candidates.

“A Gujarat election analysis has strengthened our belief that we should have given tickets to new faces to counter anti-incumbency. We will not be repeating the same mistake in MP which we did in Gujarat,” a Bhopal based party leader said.

Bhopal based political observers feel that this time the BJP is under a lot of pressure because of the perception that corruption at the local level was allowed to flourish.

“Corrupt officials and local leaders have dented the image of the party at the ground level. The Congress too has realised this and has been able to energise its worker and they sincerely believe that this time they can dislodge CM Chouhan if they work together.
Hence, the announcement of a CM face, be it Scindia or Kamal Nath, to take on Chouhan who is under pressure, is a foregone conclusion,” a veteran journalist with a Bhopal based Hindi daily said.


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