Shivraj Singh Chouhan, 61, was Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for 13 uninterrupted years till 2018.
Names of Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Narottam Mishra, a former minister in the state, have also been been doing the rounds as BJP’s probable choice for the chief minister’s post but many in the party believe that Chouhan remains the favourite.
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The BJP legislative party meeting is likely to be held soon to elect its new leader. The top party brass has so far given no clear indication about its choice for the job.
Chouhan’s popular connect, easy going manner, his good equation with the RSS combined with the fact that the party under him pulled more votes than the Congress in the 2018 assembly polls despite falling behind it in the seat tally makes him the best bet for the job, party sources said.
“He is the obvious choice. He has no match in the state,” a party leader said, wishing not to be named.
Chouhan is seen by many within the BJP as the best choice to lead the party in the bypolls to 22 seats, which have fallen vacant after the resignations of as many Congress MLAs were accepted by the assembly Speaker on Thursday. The Election Commission is likely to announce the bypoll date soon.
A leader from the Other Backward Classes (OBC), the 61-year-old leader was the state’s chief minister for 13 uninterrupted years till 2018. Following his government’s ouster, the central leadership had made him a party vice president and given key organisational responsibilities in the state to a new team of leaders.
With the BJP losing power in a number of states in the last couple of years, there is a view within the party that its popular state leaders need to be acknowledged and boosted so that it does not have to depend solely on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in local elections, a ploy which has increasingly lost its potence in assembly polls.
Over 15 months after he took over as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Nath resigned from the top post on Friday. His move comes a day after the Supreme Court directed that a floor test be conducted in Madhya Pradesh Assembly to prove that the Congress government led by him enjoys majority in the House following the rebellion by 22 MLAs of his party. Nath submitted his resignation to Governor Lalji Tandon at the Raj Bhawan here this afternoon.