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Mission 2019; An Axe For BJP CMs

As per an internal survey conducted by the BJP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Gujarat, and Maharashtra are unlikely to fare well in the polls under the present dispensations

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At least four Chief Ministers in the BJP-ruled States are likely to be axed ahead of ensuing Lok Sabha polls across the country. As per an internal survey conducted by the BJP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Gujarat, and Maharashtra are unlikely to fare well in the polls under the present dispensations.

In a sequel to the setback suffered by the BJP in the recent by-polls and Assembly elections in Karnataka, the party high command has come out with an internal pre-poll survey in view of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. If sources privy to the BJP headquarters are to be believed, the party in the four States – Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Gujarat, and Maharashtra – is unlikely to retain power in the upcoming elections under the leadership of the present incumbents.

Consequently, Chief Ministers of these states have been apprised of the decision of the high command and a section of party strategists has been swung into action to explore their possible replacements. Although the Chief Ministers of these States have been left with no option except to step down complying with the possible order from their high command, all of them are believed to have bought time to prove their worth.

None other than BJP President Amit Shah has taken on the task to deal with the worsening political situation in the four BJP-ruled states. He is, however, in favour of ensuring graceful exits of the four Chief Ministers. Shah has consequently proposed to elicit views from each Chief Minister to weigh pros and cons of their respective exits.

While Shah has already made Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje Scindia and that of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani aware of the move, he is scheduled to visit Jharkhand on July 11 to review the performance of the State Government under Chief Minister Raghubar Das. Shah is said to have given enough indication about the Centre’s move to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis too during his recent visit to the State in the course of the rapprochement exercise with the party’s key ally, the Shiv Sena, in the State.

Sources claim that in a sequel to the replacement of the State President in Rajasthan, the party high command has resolved to replace the State Presidents in the three other States too. As per the internal pre-poll survey, in these States, the BJP has been witnessing the worst-ever simmering discontentment among party functionaries. The party workers are either unhappy with their respective Chief Minister or have been carrying out a tirade against the party State President.

In Rajasthan, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia could neither afford to marginalise her adversaries within the party in the BJP’s bastion such as Kota nor could she win over members of different sections of society in the caste-ridden State. Apart from facing stiff opposition from the President of the party’s Kota OBC wing Ashok Choudhary in particular, Dalits, Rajputs, Jats, and Gujjars have their own reasons to demand the ouster of Scindia.

While the Rajput community has been making a frenzied shout of ‘BJP hatao, Rajasthan bachao’ (dislodge BJP, save Rajasthan) to oppose the imposition of the urban development tax on Rajput Sabha Bhawan in Jaipur, the Gujjar community members are adamant about their demand for 5 per cent reservation in government educational institutes and jobs under ‘special backward classes’ which, they said, should be within 50 per cent overall quota approved by the Supreme Court.

The Jat peasantry in the Shekhawati belt, meanwhile, is upset with the state government for not keeping the promises made in September 2017 when they had called off a massive agitation. The All India Kisan Sabha affiliated to the CPI(M) is planning another agitation.

Reacting to the moves against the Scindia Government in the State, the BJP high command is believed to be contemplating a change of leadership and handing over the reins to Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.

Likewise, the fate of Jharkhand Chief Minister, Raghubar Das hangs in the balance. The party is apprehensive whether it will be able to retain even half of its present seats of State Assembly and Parliament as well. According to the internal survey, the BJP is unlikely to get more than 15 seats in the ensuing elections to the State Assembly of 81 members while it may be restricted to five seats of the total 14 seats of Lok Sabha in the State. Reason: The party has done nothing substantial to recount its achievements in the polls. Apart from recently losing one Rajya Sabha seat, the BJP has lost in the recent by-polls for three Assembly seats in a row. With virtual tribal unrest on the controversial issues pertaining to Pathalgarhi (a tribal custom at variance with set laws of the land), amendments in the century-old tribal acts and land acquisition acts, the Raghubar Das Government stands accused of having failed to establish a semblance of administration in the State.

None other than BJP MP from Khunti and former Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Karia Munda has been the worst victim of an anti-establishment stir. Pro-Pathalgarhi forces dared the Government while storming the residence of Munda and abducting three police guards deployed at his house in the area. Expressing his displeasure towards the inability of the Government to ensure his protection, he has been articulate in getting his views across that he had lost faith in the State Government. While speaking to the media, he said that he would not seek protection from the Government and would be living with the mercy of God. 

In Maharashtra, a non-cooperation move by the party’s key ally, Shiv Sena has put a question mark on the survival of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ tenure. Shiv Sena under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray has been at loggerheads with the BJP under Fadnavis’ leadership and resolved to contest ensuing elections in the State alone. During the recent by-polls in the State, Shiv Sena not only fielded candidates against the BJP nominees, but Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray targeted the BJP, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Prime Minister Narendra Modi too. Fadnavis is held responsible for accentuating differences between the Sena and the BJP as he is accused of ignoring the political commitments of a coalition Government. Consequently, Amit Shah had to rush to Mumbai to resolve the tangle. Fadnavis is, as such, likely to lose his chair. However, the party high-command is yet to zero-in on an alternative name for the CM’s post.

With ordeals faced by the party in the recent Assembly elections in Gujarat, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is unlikely to continue in his post. The party’s victory with a narrow margin in the recent Assembly elections has presumably been the reason behind initiatives to replace Rupani. The Rupani Government has been in the eyes of the storm for not addressing the plight of farmers. In the backdrop of the Government’s order to put an embargo on the use of excessive water for farming, the Rupani regime is flayed for reprimanding farmers to make cultivation during summer for want of substantial supply of Narmada water in the State. The action is estimated to have affected the livelihood of more than 7 lakh farmers. However, Rupani claimed immunity from the charges by passing the buck on the system. He claimed that Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat shared the waters of Narmada and how much water the states would get was decided by Narmada Control Authority.

To top it all, the pertinent question is: with the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, what mechanism the BJP could be able to use to turn the situation in its favour and regain the mileage by replacing the present incumbents at this juncture? A section of party loyalists, however, apprehends that after being dislodged, the present dispensation may turn out to be another faction of adversaries within the party in the respective States.

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