BJP’s decision to name union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar as a candidate in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh elections has set political circles in the state abuzz even as the fate of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s seat remains to be decided.
Tomar has been out of the state’s politics for the past 15 years and last served as an MLA from Gwalior till 2008. He is currently the MP from Morena.
A couple of months ago, Tomar’s name was also announced by the Bharatiya Janata Party as the campaign committee chief for the upcoming state elections since he was the most “acceptable face” amongst the old guard of the BJP at a time when the state unit seems a divided lot. Tomar comes from the Gwalior-Chambal region where the BJP could win just eight out of the 34 seats in the 2018 polls and hopes for a turnaround.
The ruling party is yet to announce Chouhan’s candidature. Invariably, the CM’s name features in the first list of the party but Chouhan’s name has not appeared in the first two lists of a total of 78 candidates. He has been the MLA from Budhni since 2006. “The Budhni seat is still to be announced. The CM will fight from there. Don’t read too much into (the delay),” a state BJP leader told News18.
A BJP source also said that the first two lists of the party were focused on seats that the BJP had lost in the last elections and hence candidates here had been put up early to give them more time to campaign. In all, three Union Ministers and seven MPs feature in the second list — many of whom see themselves as CM contenders too.
PM did not name Chouhan: Congress
The Congress is, however, not leaving any opportunity to take some potshots. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t name Chouhan in his entire speech in Bhopal on Monday.
“The PM did not name even one scheme of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the last 18 years…He did not even name the CM,” Surjewala pointed out.
Chouhan has been speaking from literally every stage about his signature CM Ladli Behna Yojana, in which the state government is giving Rs 1,250 per month each to over 1.3 crore women. The state BJP has termed this scheme a “game-changer” in the elections.
But the PM has so far not referred to this scheme in his addresses in the state. The Congress has been asking if the scheme is not against the BJP’s policy of “no freebies” being followed in other states.
Earlier, union home minister Amit Shah had not explicitly named Chouhan as the next CM in case of the BJP winning the upcoming elections. Asked in August who will be the next CM, Shah said, “Why are you getting into what the job of the party is? That’s the job of our party, we will decide.” Chouhan has been the CM for the past 17 years since 2006, except for a 15-month gap when Kamal Nath became the chief minister in 2018.