Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): After retaining power despite the anti-incumbency factor in Madhya Pradesh -- which is called the laboratory of the parent organisation the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) -- the BJP executed its well-calculated plan of social engineering keeping the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in mind.
The saffron party has sought to strike a balance between dominant caste groups in the state by elevating Mohan Yadav an OBC leader as the Chief Minister and making Jagdish Devda a Dalit and Rajendra Shukla a Brahmin his deputies. Both Jagdish Devda and Rajendra Shukla have a long association with the party and have won multiple elections.
Narendra Singh Tomar, who was parachuted back from Delhi to contest the Assembly elections, will be the Speaker of the House in Madhya Pradesh Assembly. Political observers believe that one of the reasons behind the BJP's choice of the CM and the two Deputy CMs could be to counter the increasing influence of new outfits such as the Bhim Army and the Jan Adiwasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) among the Dalit and tribal populations of Madhya Pradesh, ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elections. The picture of the new team would be clearer once the entire Cabinet is in place and political observers believe that caste equations and regional balance are likely to be the BJP's priority in the selection of the new Cabinet.
To give a push to its 'nari-shakti' agenda, the BJP's central leadership is likely to introduce more women Ministers in the Cabinet. BJP leaders pointed out that fielding several Lok Sabha MPs, including Union Ministers for the Assembly election was also a strategic move meant to test the sentiments of the people ahead of the general elections. The changes in the leadership have undoubtedly surprised many, as relatively young leaders have been brought to replace the old guard. This has been done to send a message regarding a second-rung leadership being in place and a fresh set of leaders to contest the Lok Sabha elections.
By elevating Mohan Yadav to the CM's post, the BJP has not only retained the leadership of the OBCs - a community that constitutes over 50 per cent vote share in Madhya Pradesh, it has made an impact on Yadav voters, which is around 14 per cent of the population in the state. The BJP's new leadership in the state, especially Mohan Yadav, who has strong roots in the Hindu nationalist organisation RSS, would be very different from the previous one.
Despite having strong roots in the RSS, the politics of former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was liberal and balanced. However, Yadav is not Shivraj Singh Chouhan and seems to fit the BJP's Hindutva agenda. This is indicated by his very first decision as Chief Minister as he put a ban on "unauthorised" use of loudspeakers at religious places and curbed meat sales in open places a couple of days ago. There has already been a counter reaction to Yadav's action as Muslim leaders from the Opposition Congress have accused Yadav of playing communal politics.