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Posted at: May 26, 2018, 1:51 AM; last updated: May 26, 2018, 1:51 AM (IST)

Incumbent CMs to lead party in R’sthan, C’garh, MP polls: BJP

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 25

Contrary to speculation, the BJP has ruled out advancing Lok Sabha elections dates or a change of leadership in Rajasthan. A top leader today said the BJP would contest all three party-ruled states — Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh — under the leadership of incumbent Chief Ministers.

While Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Raman Singh are said to share a “good relationship” with the central leadership, namely BJP chief Amit Shah, the same cannot be said about Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje. The embarrassing loss in Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha bypolls exposed chinks in Rajasthan state unit and the party’s inability to hold its own in upcoming Assembly elections under Raje. There is also no decision, so far, on Rajasthan state president. Shah and Raje have failed to agree upon a mutually-acceptable candidate, claim sources.

However, given its lack of “viable options”, the BJP doesn’t have very many choices besides Raje, it seems. Though the sources also insist that elevation in stature of Union Minister from the state — Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore — is “linked to the party’s plans for Rajasthan.”

Meanwhile, quelling all guesswork on the BJP pushing for early Lok Sabha elections, the BJP leader said the polls would be held “as per the schedule”. “There is no question about us (BJP) trying to pre-pone elections,” he said on the eve of the BJP completing its four years in power at the Centre.

With the Lok Sabha elections now about a year away, the Modi government will hold nationwide events to showcase achievements in the past four years with a slogan—“Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas”. The fourth anniversary follows the Karnataka outcome and precedes Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh elections due later this year.

Fueled by BSP leader Mayawati, who after Gorakhpur and Phulpur LS bypoll said the BJP might push for early General Elections, the speculation gained momentum after the Karnataka Assembly elections.

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