BJP contemplates not naming CM candidate in assembly elections after successful Assam experiment

Attempt aimed at beating anti-incumbency; comes a year before crucial UP elections; BJP’s central leadership meeting in UP keeps rumour mills working overtime

BJP contemplates not naming CM candidate in assembly elections after successful Assam experiment

The BJP is worried about the anger against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. PTI file photo

Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 31

The BJP is considering emulating its Assam model of not projecting a chief ministerial candidate before elections in an attempt to beat any anti-incumbency in other poll-bound states---a development that comes as it holds political parleys in Uttar Pradesh, a key BJP-ruled state that leads next year’s polling list.

Other states that head into assembly elections are, besides Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat—all BJP-ruled states.

Apparently, a key point of debate at the ongoing saffron meeting is to decide whether to go in for the incumbent chief minister as its face in the upcoming election campaigns. Sources say in elections held in different states between 2014 and 2021, the leadership found that the anti-incumbency factor tends to dominate if it is the second consecutive time of a CM, like in Haryana.

Besides, projecting an incumbent may also be counter-productive because then other hopefuls and contenders tend to pull back. It was keeping this very factor in mind that the BJP did not opt for incumbent Sarbanada Sonowal in Assam and kept open the field for hopeful Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is now the chief minister of Assam.

Besides, ever since the second wave of Covid-19, the BJP chief ministers, especially Uttar Pradesh’s Adityanath, are facing additional issues—of people's anger over allegations of mismanagement. By not declaring a CM candidate in advance the BJP may be able to take care of some of this anger, it is believed. Whether this experiment is replicated in the case of Adityanath remains to be seen but the anger against him is a major cause of concern for the saffron party in Uttar Pradesh. The sources say Home Minister Amit Shah may be stepping in to take charge of the party's campaign in the days to come.

In the meantime, UP’s power corridors are rife with speculations, including a reshuffle of the Cabinet. Sources say top central leaders, including BL Santosh and BJP's state in-charge Radha Mohan Singh, are holding meetings at various levels. 

Ever since the meeting of top RSS and BJP leaders in Delhi, followed by another of Sangh leaders in Lucknow, the rumour mills are working overtime about “important changes”, including a “bigger role” for former Gujarat-cadre IAS AK Sharma, a close confidante of Prime Minister Narendra Mod, who took voluntary retirement to join the saffron party a couple of months back. 

Given the “simmering anger” in UP, the general feeling is that if the party goes to the elections in the current circumstances, it may suffer substantial losses. 

Hundreds of people, including BJP leaders and their kin, have lost their lives over the last month and a half while the coronavirus pandemic raged on. The Covid deaths in the state also include three ministers of the Adityanath government.

 

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