New Delhi, December 8
Setting the ball rolling for the selection of chief ministers in the Hindi heartland states where the BJP recently swept elections, the party on Friday appointed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Haryana CM ML Khattar and Union tribal affairs minister Arjun Munda as lead observers for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, respectively.
Rajasthan: Vasundhara Raje, Diya Kumari, Mahant Balaknath
Madhya Pradesh: Shivraj Chouhan, Narendra Tomar, Prahlad Patel, Kailash Vijayvargiya
Chhattisgarh: Lata Usendi, Gomti Sai, Renuka Singh, Arun Sao, Vishnu Deo Sai
Rajnath, BJP general secretary in charge of Bihar Vinod Tawde and Rajya Sabha MP from Chhattisgarh Saroj Pandey will oversee the CM selection process and engagement with elected MLAs in Rajasthan.
In Madhya Pradesh, BJP president JP Nadda has named Haryana CM Khattar, two-term former Ranchi mayor Asha Lakra, a tribal leader from Jharkhand whose husband was killed in a Maoist attack, and BJP OBC cell chief K Laxman as observers.
Munda and his Cabinet colleague Sarbanand Sonowal will be observers for engaging the elected MLAs in Chhattisgarh. The third observer for Chhattisgarh will be BJP general secretary Dushyant Gautam.
Party sources said caretaker CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan former CM Vasundhara Raje were in serious contention for the top job in the two states and could have along with them a team of deputy CMs to balance other castes. In Chhattisgarh, the party might like to experiment, with Raman Singh not flexing his muscle and lying low, though a soft approach might yield him dividends.
The observers will attend the legislature party meetings in all three states and give their input to the BJP Parliamentary Party Board chaired by PM Narendra Modi to take the final call.
A decision could happen by Sunday, when legislature party meetings are likely to take place. In Chhattisgarh tribal faces Lata Usendi, Gomti Sai and Renuka Singh are in contention for major roles along with state BJP chief Arun Sao and former state chief Vishnu Deo Sai.
In MP, Narendra Tomar, Prahlad Patel and Kailash Vijayvargiya are also among probables alongside Chouhan. In Rajasthan Diya Kumari, Mahant Balaknath, are among those in contention apart from Raje.
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