After Sharma’s elevation, BJP has to balance caste equation in state.
New Delhi: The BJP seems to be in a dilemma in Madhya Pradesh, which it lost to the Congress in 2018 after ruling the state for more than 15 years. While a majority faction within the BJP’s state unit wants to tap on the “chances” to wrest the government from the Congress, citing factionalism in the ruling party and misgovernance, the BJP central leadership, sources said, is not in favour of it as of now.
In 2018 Assembly elections in the state, the BJP, under Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s leadership, lost the key state to the Congress, which remained three seats short of a simple majority but managed to form the government by getting the support of Independents as well as the BSP and the SP. The BJP managed to win five seats less than the Congress.
The BJP on Saturday appointed a new chief for its Madhya Pradesh unit, replacing Jabalpur MP Rakesh Singh with Khajuraho MP, V.D. Sharma, who is considered close to senior RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale.
A former national general secretary of the RSS’ students wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Mr Sharma is not part of any factions within the state BJP which, sources said, boosted his chance for the post. BJP national president J.P. Nadda, who announced Mr Sharma’s name, was also associated with the ABVP.
However, with Mr Sharma’s appointment as the new chief, the central leadership of the BJP will have to fine-tune the caste equation in its state unit as the leader of Opposition, Gopal Bhargava, is also a Brahmin. Madhya Pradesh, which was under the BJP’s rule from 2003 to 2018, had witnessed massive anti-BJP protests in 2018 over the party’s aggressive campaign to woo the Dalit and OBC votebank after the BJP-led NDA government brought in a legislation to amend the Supreme Court order in SC/ST Protection Act, which was perceived by many as being against the two communities.
There are said to be around 60 per cent OBCs in the state and more than 20 per cent voters are Dalits.