This is despite the wide acceptability of incumbent Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
As many as 27 sitting MLAs, including three ministers, have been dropped from the Bharatiya Janata Party’s first list of candidates for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls, giving strong indications of anti-incumbency against the present government. Well-placed sources said that the move was aimed at defying the strong anti-incumbency against the sitting BJP MLAs in the state, despite the wide acceptability of incumbent Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
On Friday, the BJP released its first list of 177 candidates for the 28 November polls and as expected, denied tickets to 34 sitting MLAs. Senior BJP leaders said a few more sitting legislators could be dropped from the second list.
The BJP is yet to decide on candidature from prestigious seats like Indore, Govindpura, Mhow and Bhopal (North), among others.
Mhow is represented by BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, while party veteran Babulal Gaur is seeking re-nomination from the Govindpura seat. Chief Minister Chouhan has been retained from his hometown Budni, a seat which he has represented since 2006.
A senior BJP leader said that the party had identified over 70 Assembly seats where the BJP was facing strong public resentment and so the high command had decided to drop the sitting MLAs.
At the same time, Chouhan’s projection of himself as an OBC leader did not go well with the upper caste voters who were traditionally BJP voters. The Central government’s decision to amend the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, widely seen as a move to make a dent into the Dalit vote bank, has also not down gone well with the upper caste voters who have been opposing the move. However, BJP sources said the party is likely to be benefited by the divided leadership of its main opponent, Congress. They said that Congress’ leaders lacked acceptability, and in particular former CM and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh’s reluctance from electioneering could benefit the BJP. The party’s poll managers believe that for want of a CM candidate from Congress, a large chuck of voters will land on the BJP side when campaigning begins in the state.
The BJP, facing strong anti-incumbency after three terms in power, has denied tickets to eight women MLAs, including minister Maya Singh. Singh has been replaced by corporator Satish Sikarwar, while MLA Nilam Mishra bore the brunt of her husband Abhay Mishra’s act of joining Congress recently. Three ministers dropped by the BJP include Women and Child Development Minister Maya Singh, MoS Harsh Singh (plagued by ill health) and Forest Minister Gaurishankar Shejwar, who wanted his son to contest. His son Mudit has been fielded from Sanchi. Though the BJP has denied ticket to Vyapam tainted former minister Laxmikant Sharma who was lobbying hard for a ticket, it did entertain him by fielding his brother Umakant Sharma from Sironj, a Brahmin dominated seat in Vidisha. The party has also fielded Kamal Patel from Harda. Patel had gone into political oblivion after his family got embroiled in a murder case.