The party has also started organisational reshuffle in states like Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
With Karnataka elections over, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership has set in motion organisational reshuffle in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, which are going for Assembly elections later this year.
Sources said that besides these poll-bound states, currently held by the BJP, the party has also started organisational reshuffle in states like Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, where new state presidents have been appointed. Besides that, sources said, there are also moves to appoint new state presidents in Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
Taking a cue from the setback in Karnataka, where it could not form the government despite being the single largest party, and its average performance in byelections across the country, the party is treading very cautiously and wants to ensure that the organisation is well in place in these three states.
While the party leadership has appointed a new state president in MP, discussions are underway to find suitable replacements in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The exercise started following tendering of resignation by the state presidents in MP and Rajasthan.
According to a senior BJP leader, the Assembly elections in three states are crucial for the party as the party’s performance was very good in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. “Since these elections will be held just before the general elections, this will determine the general mood of the voters nationally. These elections are important as they will set the tone for 2019. Therefore, we are taking it very seriously,” he added.
Nand Kumar Chauhan, Ashok Parnami and K. Hari Babu, who are the state presidents of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, respectively, resigned sometime back, paving the way for the party leadership to appoint new ones.
The leadership quickly appointed Jabalpur Lok Sabha MP Rakesh Singh as the new MP state unit chief and K. Lakshminarayan as the new AP state unit president. Lakshminarayan, previously a Congressman, is a five-time MLA from Guntur. He joined the BJP after quitting the Congress in 2014. The party also appointed Ravindra Raina as the new president of Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP.
The party is likely to take a decision on Rajasthan soon. A meeting was held recently, attended by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Amit Shah and Ram Lal, to deliberate on who would succeed Ashok Parnami, who was considered close to Raje. Sources said the national leadership is in favour of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as the new state president of Rajasthan. The other name which is doing the rounds is of Arjun Ram Meghwal. Raje, however, is said to be pushing for S. Kriplani and Laxminarayan Dave.
Sources said by appointing Rakesh Singh as MP BJP chief, who belongs to the backward caste, the party leadership has sent a clear message that it was wooing the OBCs. This is to be noted that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, too, belongs to the backward caste.
In order to do the balancing act, the party has appointed Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, a Rajput, as the election campaign committee chief. The party is yet to take a call on who would be the new Chhattisgarh chief. The state unit is presently headed by Daharamlal Kaushik.
All the three—Hari Babu, Parnami and Chauhan—have been rehabilitated as members of the party’s national executive. For AP, the party also appointed Somu Veerraju as the state convenor of election management committee.