BJP hunts for new faces in Chhattisgarh to put state unit in order

Amid the infighting and factionalism, the BJP central leadership has in a strong message to its Chhattisgarh unit asked it to put its house in order before next year’s assembly polls. The party is exploring the possibility of new leadership in Chhattisgarh before the assembly polls.

The BJP ruled Chhattisgarh for 15 years from 2003 to 2018. Party national vice president Dr Raman Singh was chief minister for 15 years. BJP politics in Chhattisgarh revolved around Singh for almost two decades and he still wields some influence.

Defeat in the by-polls held last month has raised concerns in the BJP about next year’s assembly polls as the Khairagarh assembly constituency falls under the home district of former chief minister Singh.

“Defeat in Khairagarh has raised serious questions about Singh’s leadership and the result shows that he is losing hold on the ground. Defeat in the by-polls has forced the party to look to new faces for the leadership role in Chhattisgarh,” a party insider said.

Last month, the BJP central leadership held deliberations on party affairs in the state with leaders from Chhattisgarh. Sources claimed that the central leadership is not happy with the functioning of the Chhattisgarh BJP and pulled up the state leadership for the current state of affairs.

“The state BJP leadership has explained that the party will not project the chief ministerial face for next year’s assembly polls. A senior leader will be appointed as the head of the party’s election campaign and given a free hand in managing all the poll related affairs,” he said.

While finding a new party face in Chhattisgarh, the BJP leadership is also taking social issues into consideration. A senior functionary said that before finalizing any name for the leadership role (not chief ministerial face) all the social factors existing in the state will be considered.

“The party leadership will take a final call on whether to project a tribal, an OBC, or from some other caste,” he said.

After making Singh chief minister of the state in 2003, the BJP contested the elections in 2008, 2013, and 2018 with Singh as the party face. But the BJP faced a humiliating defeat in the last assembly polls in 2018 and the party also lost the subsequent by-polls in the state.

Another leader pointed out that a new face is urgently required. “Current Chhattisgarh BJP president Vishnu Deo Sai and the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Dharamlal Kaushik, close to the former chief minister, may also be replaced to make way for a new and fresh face to bring all sections together to dislodge the Congress government in the state,” he added.

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