‘Discontent among the voters is spread across several districts, but it is not against the government as such.’
At least 65 sitting BJP MLAs, including half a dozen ministers, will not be getting tickets for contesting the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, two senior leaders who are part of the strategy formulation, told The Sunday Gaurdian.
The BJP had won 165 seats in 2013 and is battling major anti-incumbency in many pockets of the state on account of being in power in the state since 2003. Many of its MLAs and ministers are facing protests from the voters.
According to party sources, the discontent among the voters was spread across several districts, but it was not against the government as such.
“We have carried out multiple exercises in the recent past to get feedback from the ground and it is clear that discontent is there in several regions, but it is against the MLAs and not the party. For example, in one of the seats in the Gwalior region, the voters are angry with the sitting MLA, but they are not angry with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. To deal with this situation, the party will have to bring in new faces. The MLAs, who were not able to perform despite everything being given to them, will have to make way for others. Close to 70 such seats have already been identified where we are on a weak situation because of the local MLAs and we will be changing the face there,” the party functionary added.
In the 2013 polls, the BJP had denied tickets to 43 sitting MLAs including three ministers—the party had 143 MLAs in the Assembly at the time.
When contacted, BJP MP Prabhat Jha, who has been appointed as the media coordinator of the state, said that it was too early to speculate how many MLAs will be dropped. He said that “win-ability” will be the only criterion for giving tickets.
Party president Amit Shah, who had visited the state earlier this month and interacted with state leaders, too, has given clear instructions to senior state leaders to make sure that only those who have performed well are rewarded and tickets are distributed on the basis of merit rather than “sifarish” (recommendation).
“Earlier, many MLAs would get ticket despite not working because of their relations with central leaders or because they had been the sitting MLA for successive tenures. This has changed now and the ticket of not a single MLA is safe. Everything is based on the report card that is shared with the party president and even if a tall state leader tried to push for a renomination for an MLA from his camp, who has under-performed, he will have to face a lot of questions, and because of that it has become difficult for even top leaders to push for their candidates,” a top party functionary added.