True to BJP script, ten out of the 12 Members of Parliament (MPs), who won the assembly polls in the three states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, resigned from their Lok Sabha seats on Wednesday.
Some of these names are doing the rounds as ‘CM aspirants’ and their resignation emits a message of sorts about their commitment to their home state and the new role they may play in the BJP scheme of things, in the runup to the general elections.
Most important, it is an indication that the BJP leadership is seriously mulling having ‘new faces’ at the helm at the outset, rather than changing horses midstream.
BJP chief JP Nadda shepherded the contingent, which has submitted its resignation, to meet the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Amongst them were Narendra Tomar, Prahlad Patel, Riti Pathak, Rakesh Singh, Uday Pratap Singh from Madhya Pradesh. In Rajasthan, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Kirodi Lal Meena and Diya Kumari have submitted their papers; from Chhattisgarh, it is Arun Sao and Gomti Sai.
The resignations are procedural, since the Constitution does not allow an individual to function both as a Member of Parliament and Legislative Assembly of a state. But there was no tearing hurry for them to resign and they could have relinquished either seat in due course. These resignations have left the people hypothesising and postulating about ‘kaun banega mukhyamantri’. BJP insiders said that the party, while investing in the CM candidate, has the next 15 years on radar.
Very strong indications are emanating from Chattisgarh that Raman Singh will be phased out and a fresh face would be inducted. But can Shivraj Chouhan, who has delivered the state to the High Command on a platter with a 2/3rd majority, be kept out of the CM’s chair?
Also, will Vasundhara Raje overcome the odds and resistance from a section within the party to become the Chief Minister of Rajasthan for the third time? Anticipating her ascendance, MLAs have been making a beeline for Raje's residence in the last two days.
In a way, both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are at an intersection and the interests of both Shivraj and Vasundhara seem to converge. Sample this: If Shivraj is not considered for the post, Vasundhara automatically gets sidelined. But this may be more a matter of strategy and have less to do with the intertwining of their fortunes.
So, hypothetically speaking, if Jyotiraditya Scindia emerges as one of the nominees for the hot seat in MP, Shivraj Chouhan is not only cut to size but his contemporary Vasundhara also gets overlooked, as there can’t be two chief ministers from the same family.
The upshot is that ‘Bua’ and ‘Bhatija’ (Jyotiraditya & Vasundhra) together cannot be the claimants of the CM’s post. If this happens, it would be a cleverly choreographed move which the uncharitable would say helps PM Modi check Mama's meteoric rise.
Amit Shah's man and party General secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is also a CM aspirant after winning the Indore seat with a handsome margin, was quick to wean away from Chouhan the credit for the stupendous success of his homespun schemes. Vijayvargiya told the reporters, "The Ladli Behna scheme belongs to the BJP, not to Shivraj.’’
So what happens to Mama Shivraj? Cameras caught him dining at a local restaurant in Bhopal, celebrating the birthday of a young boy and saying that people of MP are his family. He stretched the analogy further and said: 'Hum Delhi nahi jayenge' (‘‘I will not go to Delhi’’).
Clearly, Shivraj would like to be perceived as man of his own mind, but at the end of the day he doesn’t have too many soft choices; only hard options.
Grapevine has it that he might be made the Union Agriculture minister but will Shivraj be happy working in the backroom like Nitin Gadkari; the jury is still out on that. Mama knows that even RSS cannot help him too much in the matter. At least, right now, the time is not ripe for that.
POSTSCRIPT: But where is Rajasthan heading to? Will it have another woman CM? Diya Kumari's name is doing the rounds and Vasundhra may find it hard to block her; or who knows the latter has a plan B, in case things do not work out to her satisfaction -- possibly, in tandem with Ashok Gehlot?
PM Modi has an uncanny knack of springing a surprise; take, for instance Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana or Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra. Both were para dropped into the party