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india today insightThe BJP, on August 17, declared its first list of assembly poll candidates for select seats in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The announcement followed the BJP parliamentary board’s meeting in New Delhi the previous day. Candidates were announced for 21 of the 90 assembly seats in Chhattisgarh and 39 of the 230 seats in MP.

Why has the BJP announced candidates so early when polls in both states are slated for the year-end? Sources in the BJP said that the party’s core strategy team, led by Union home minister Amit Shah, decided to announce candidates for seats where the party has not won for a long time or is pitted in a close fight with the Congress. The BJP has grouped the seats into four categories (A, B, C and D). Category A seats are considered safe while B has seats that the BJP lost once. Category C has seats where party candidates lost more than twice while D comprises seats never or seldom won. Most of the candidates announced are for seats in categories C and D.

In Chhattisgarh, 10 of the 21 seats for which candidates were declared are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST). One of the 21 seats is reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and the remaining 10 are general seats. The Congress had won an overwhelming majority in the ST reserved seats in the 2018 assembly election. Chhattisgarh has a total of 29 ST and 10 SC reserved seats.

In MP, eight of the 39 seats for which candidates were announced are reserved for SCs while 13 are reserved for STs. There are a total of 47 ST reserved seats in MP and 35 SC reserved seats. The Congress holds a majority of the ST reserved seats in the state.

In releasing the first list of candidates, the BJP has adopted differing strategies for Chhattisgarh and MP. In Chhattisgarh, where the party is in Opposition, the aim is to create enough time for the cadre to galvanise around the candidates. In MP, where the BJP is in power, the party plans to give the advantage of being in government to the candidates as well as rein in any opposition or sabotage from within. However, the risk in announcing candidates early is rebellion by other contenders or their disengagement from the election process. In Chhattisgarh, the ruling Congress can take more advantage of rebels in the BJP.

The seats declared in Chhattisgarh include Patan, which is held by chief minister Bhupesh Baghel. The BJP has fielded sitting Durg MP Vijay Baghel, who has once defeated Bhupesh Baghel in the past. Vijay Baghel and Bhupesh Baghel are related to each other.

In MP, many of the seats declared are in the Gwalior-Chambal region, where the BJP feels it is in a weak position. One of the candidates declared is Aidal Singh Kansana from Sumaoli, a former Congress leader who defected to the BJP along with Jyotiraditya Scindia in March 2020. Kansana lost the assembly bye-election in November 2020.


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Edited By:

Arindam Mukherjee

Published On:

Aug 17, 2023

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