NEW DELHI, Sept 26: The BJP has thrown open the leadership in Madhya Pradesh and deployed its big
guns, several of whom have never contested assembly polls, from the state to deliver the goods for the
party in the elections where it is facing a keen challenge from the Congress.
Despite the sense that the BJP will be fielding a few of its MPs in the assembly polls in several states, the
extent of their deployment has taken even many within the party by surprise, with three Union
ministers and four other MPs being named as candidates in the second list of nominees for 39 seats.
Two of the ministers, Narendra Singh Tomar and Faggan Singh Kulaste, will be contesting from seats that
were won by the Congress in 2018, while three of the four other Lok Sabha MPs will also fight in
constituencies where the main opposition party had emerged victorious in the last assembly polls.
A former state BJP president, Tomar was appointed in July as the convenor of the party’s election
management committee in Madhya Pradesh, a responsibility which required him to oversee the entire
A three-term MP, Tomar was an MLA for two terms till 2008 and has been in Lok Sabha since 2009.
Union minister Prahlad Singh Patel is a five-term Lok Sabha MP and has never been an MLA while
Kulaste, a tribal leader, was last an MLA way back in 1992 before getting elected to Lok Sabha six times
and Rajya Sabha once.
Among other MPs fighting assembly polls for the first time are Ganesh Singh, a four-term Lok Sabha
member, and Rakesh Singh, also a four-term Lok Sabha member. Rakesh Singh has also been the state
Party leaders are of the view that the leadership has sought to send out several messages with their
choices while acknowledging the strong challenge the BJP faces from the Congress, which had bettered
its tally in the state assembly in 2018 for the first time after 1998.
Amid a view that chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who led the BJP to massive wins in 2008 and
2013 before found wanting in 2018, is no longer the same political force, the party has sought to keep
the leadership issue open by pitting many of its big names in the contest in a signal to those supporters
who may no longer be drawn to him but remain sympathetic to it.
It is also a message to these senior leaders, who include national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya,
long seen as an aspirant for the chief minister’s chair, that they should prove their mettle by ensuring a
good show for the party before their leadership claim is considered sympathetically by its top brass,
With all regional satraps barring Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia fighting the assembly polls expected
in November-December, the party is hopeful that this will minimise factional feuds, an issue that has
plagued the state organisation, and result in a cohesive campaign.
That they come from a mix of castes; Tomar and Rakesh Singh are Thakurs, Patel is a Lodh (OBC) and
Ganesh Singh is a Kurmi (OBC) while Kulaste is from a tribal community, will be helpful in social
messaging, its leaders said.
Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said no matter who the BJP
fields, people of the state have decided to oust it as he accused the saffron party of forming government
in the state through the back door.
The BJP had toppled the Kamal Nath government in 2020 after several MLAs close to Scindia, then in the
Congress, withdrew their support.
The opposition party said that with the announcement of the list, it seems results have been declared
even before the polls.
The Congress has its tail up after defeating the BJP first in Himachal Pradesh in a close contest and then
in Karnataka in a landslide, following a series of reverses it has suffered at the hands of the ruling party.
Its leader Rahul Gandhi had recently claimed that his party is “certainly” winning in Madhya Pradesh and
The BJP has so far named 79 candidates for the election to the 230-member Madhya Pradesh assembly.
An overwhelming majority of seats for which it has named its choices are those it had lost in 2018. (PTI)