Chhattisgarh chief minister likely to be named by BJP today. Who are the front-runners?
While the BJP has not officially announced any names, several top leaders from Chhattisgarh are speculated to be potential chief minister candidates.
The central observers of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday arrived in Raipur as the suspense over the chief ministerial name in Chhattisgarh continued. Sarbananda Sonowal and Arjun Munda are likely to attend a meeting with newly elected legislators regarding the chief ministerial candidate in the state.
Union health minister and BJP's Chhattisgarh co-incharge Mansukh Mandaviya are also in Raipur. The party has been facing criticism for keeping its cards close and delaying the chief minister picks.
The BJP ousted incumbent Congress from Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and retained Madhya Pradesh with a landslide victory. This led to the saffron party tightening its hold in the Hindi heartland and gave a big boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
With an absolute majority in the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly, the BJP won 54 seats while the Congress trailed at 35 seats. In Rajasthan, the saffron party won a total of 115 out of 199 seats. In Madhya Pradesh, BJP managed to stave off anti-incumbency after winning 163 seats in the 230-member assembly. However, the BJP bagged only eight seats in the 119-member Telangana assembly as Congress won the southern state by ousting K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). Revanth Reddy of the Congress took oath as the new chief minister of Telangana on Thursday.
While the BJP has not officially announced any names, several top leaders from Chhattisgarh are speculated to be potential candidates for the chief minister post in the states.
Here we take a look at some of them:
From a Rajput family in Chhattisgarh’s Kawardha, 71-year-old Raman Singh is a three-time chief minister who governed the state from 2003 to 2018. A former Union minister, Singh took over after the BJP beat the Ajit Jogi-led Congress in 2003, and quickly became known as “chawal vale baba”, strengthening the state’s public distribution system. He was in power for fifteen straight years before anti-incumbency caught up with him, and the BJP crashed to 15 seats in 2018. Singh however has re-emerged as a key component of the BJP win in the state, and with Lok Sabha elections in 2024, is a steady hand if the party wants to choose stability.
Arun Sao, 54, who began his political career as a volunteer of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, rose to win his first Lok Sabha election from Bilaspur in 2019, and was made state party president in November 2022.
A lawyer by profession and a former deputy advocate general in the BJP tenure. Sao will have credit in the bank after pulling off the unlikeliest of electoral wins among the Hindi heartland states, and may also be in the running because he is a Sahu, the most influential of OBC communities that have moved decisively to the BJP.
A dark horse for the post of chief minister is former IAS officer-turned-politician OP Choudhary, who fought the elections from Raigarh and won with a record margin of 64,000 votes. The 2005-batch officer, who was once the district collector of Dantewada, where he brought in several schemes for the education of children in Bastar, joined the BJP in August 2018.
A “son of the soil”, Choudhary is from the Agharia caste, an influential OBC group in rural Chhattisgarh, and has been seen as a future leader for the BJP. During his campaign, Amit Shah, who took out a roadshow in his constituency of Raigarh said that the people had to make him win, and the responsibility of making him a “big man” was the home minister’s.
Ramvichar Netam has served as a Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha from Chhattisgarh from 2016 to 2022. He has formerly served as the cabinet minister in the government of former BJP chief minister Raman Singh.
Vishnu Deo Sai
If the BJP wants to pick a tribal face as its chief minister, rewarding a clear tribal shift towards the BJP by the community, one option before the leadership is 59-year-old Vishnu Dev Sai, former union minister of state and Chhattisgarh BJP president. Sai was president for four years between 2018 and 2022, and has won the elections from Kunkuri in north Chhattisgarh, a region the BJP has swept.
Saroj Pandey contested and won the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections from Vaishali Nagar as a BJP candidate first in 2008. Before that, she had served as the Mayor of Durg in Chhattisgarh. In 2009, the BJP nominated her for a seat in the Lok Sabha, which she also won. In 2018, she was elected to the Rajya Sabha.
Notably, she is one of the central observers appointed by the BJP for the election of its legislature party leaders in Rajasthan.
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