Shivraj may take over as MP CM for fourth term

NEW DELHI: If everything goes according to BJP’s plan, three-time Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan may take over for a fourth term, after being out of power for 15 months, somewhat settling scores for BJP’s ouster in Maharashtra, where its rivals teamed up with Shiv Sena.
A few days ago, the Leader of Opposition in Gujarat assembly Paresh Dhanani had teased BJP benches by telling deputy CM Nitin Patel that Congress would “make him the deputy CM if he walked out of BJP with 15-20 MLAs”. The jibe may have discomfited Patel, but the brewing storm in Madhya Pradesh was just beyond the horizon.
The Madhya Pradesh shocker came even as Congress leaders felt they had a handle on BJP by challenging it on issues like the economy and anti-CAA unrest. Jyotiraditya Scindia and BJP were scripting a regime-change story.
Scindia’s joining will be a big boost to the saffron party, which lost the assembly polls in 2018 because of poor performance in Gwalior-Chambal region, the stronghold of the Scindia clan. Besides, his induction will help focus attention on Congress’s growing vulnerability at a time when the Modi government is battling resistance to CAA, with the Delhi result seen as a win for its opponents.
It also scotches rumours of whatever reservations Modi-Shah may have had about Shivraj Singh Chouhan. There was speculation that BJP is unwilling to bring down the Nath government due to a “trust deficit”. BJP sources maintained that they were clear about not acting in a hurry and waiting for the contradictions to ripen. There were initial apprehensions about complications for leadership’s equations with rival branch of Scindia clan. Jyotiraditya’s equations with his aunt Vasundhara Raje, former Rajasthan CM, were said to be not even.
The rivalry was at least partly a fallout of the political schism in the family, which started when Vijaya Raje Scindia paid a price for opposing Emergency and staying with Bhartiya Jan Sangh.
If sources are to be believed, the Scindia family is united now and the recent picture of Vasundhara Raje hugging her nephew was an indication that the entire family is together. There are other likely claimants to the CM post but Chouhan’s claim is clearly well recognised. BJP has moved with caution. Before the rebel Congress MLAs were flown to a ‘safe-house’ in Bengaluru on Monday, a BJP leader, who was coordinating with them, asked them at least twice as if they are “completely ready” to quit the party in support of Scindia, who had made up his mind to join BJP as he was upset with the Congress leadership for neither considering him as PCC chief nor nominating him to Rajya Sabha.
As the MLAs assured to stay firm, BJP leaders swung into action. Chouhan and Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who were assigned to keep a watch on developments in the state, held meetings with the party high command, including home minister Amit Shah and J P Nadda to finalise the plan to topple the Nath government and have Scindia join the party.
Scindia’s aunt and BJP MLA Yashodhara Raje played a crucial role as she termed her nephew’s imminent joining BJP as “ghar-wapasi” since his father Madhavrao Scindia had quit Jan Sangh and joined Congress after differences with his mother, the late Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia, one of the founder members of BJP.
The BJP central election committee met on Tuesday to finalise Rajya Sabha candidates and review MP developments. After the CEC meeting, Modi, Shah and Nadda sat separately to ensure precise execution of the plan. Even the Congress rebel MLAs’ resignation being sent to Governor Lalji Tandon was part of the strategy to ensure that Speaker doesn’t make any confusions about receiving the letter.
At Tuesday’s meeting, sources said, there was no discussion about the three RS candidates from Madhya Pradesh, possibly because Scindia is still not a BJP member. He is likely to join in a couple of days, after which his candidature is likely to be announced.
It was learnt that there was no discussion about Chouhan’s taking over as CM, as it will be formally discussed only after more clarity emerges in the state over status of resignation of the Congress MLAs.

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