The BJP today announced first lists of candidates for Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh due later this year. This is the first time the BJP has announced names of candidates even before the Election Commission of India announces the poll dates.
The party has announced 21 candidates for the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly and 39 for the 230-member Madhya Pradesh House.
The announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the BJP’s central election committee, the party’s decision-making body for selection of candidates and preparation of poll strategies.
The BJP leadership’s unprecedented decision to announce candidates’ names well in advance appears to be aimed at identifying friction within the ranks so that issues can be resolved well in advance.
Following the poll setback in Karnataka earlier this year, the party is in no mood for another debacle. Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are among five states going to polls later this year, along with Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram.
Out of these, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana are ruled by Opposition forces. In Mizoram, BJP’s ties with ally and ruling party Mizo National Front are strained in the wake of the Manipur unrest. And in Madhya Pradesh, a neck-to-neck fight is expected between the BJP and the Congress.
One highlight in Chhattisgarh list is the name of Vijay Baghel, Lok Sabha MP from Durg. A former MLA from Patan, he has been fielded from the same seat this time. The names of former Chief Minister Raman Singh and other senior party leaders are missing from the first list.
In Madhya Pradesh, the names of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and prominent ministers are not on the first list of candidates.
The BJP’s Chhattisgarh list comprises five women, 10 candidates from Scheduled Tribes and one from the Scheduled Castes category. For Madhya Pradesh, the party has chosen five women, eight Scheduled Caste candidates and 13 Scheduled Tribes candidates.