This Article is From Sep 27, 2023

NDTV Exclusive: Inside Details Of BJP's Strategy For Upcoming State Polls

The plan is to curb nepotism and avoid "dynasty politics" jibes from the opposition, particularly since the allegation is one Prime Minister Modi frequently lays at the door of the Congress.

The BJP hopes Prime Minister Modi's charisma will help it win forthcoming state and national polls (File)

New Delhi:

The BJP will rely on "collective leadership" and the "Modi factor" in five state polls due this year, sources have told NDTV, revealing details of plans to bounce back from the chastening loss in Karnataka in May and a 3-4 defeat - to the opposition INDIA bloc - in bypolls earlier this month.

Sources have also said the party will try not to project a chief ministerial candidate, particularly not in the majority Hindi-speaking states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, in an attempt to keep regional leaders' ambitions and rivalries in check, and reinforce the "party above individual" maxim.

In simple terms, the BJP is hoping big-name candidates will secure seats in which it is weaker, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal will see the party win another round of elections, and that an open chief minister's post will act as an incentive to encourage regional leaders to work harder.

The plan is to also curb nepotism and avoid "dynasty politics" jibes, particularly since the allegation is one the PM lays at the door of the Congress. The party will now give one ticket per family, sources said.

READ |BJP Won't Project Chief Minister Faces In Hindi-Speaking States: Sources

A glimpse of these plans were on offer this week in Madhya Pradesh.

Four MPs, three union ministers, and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya - will contest and there iis no place (yet) for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

BJP sources told NDTV talk Mr Chouhan will be denied a ticket are "wrong", but the "any big leader can be CM post-election" caveat does not augur well for the 64-year-old's immediate political future.

READ |Shivraj Chouhan Sidelined In Madhya Pradesh Campaign? What BJP Sources Say

In the context of the Madhya Pradesh polls prep, NDTV was told that fielding MPs and union ministers conveys the "collective leadership" message; that message was underlined today too, with sources saying the party hopes fielding its "best team" will give it an edge over the Congress.

Also, in each of these states veteran leaders will be tasked with flipping seats lost five years ago.

The BJP will use the same approach to dislodge the Congress from Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and in Telangana, where Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao's Bharat Rashtra Samithi awaits.

BJP's Rajasthan Assembly Election Plans

In Rajasthan, possible chief minister faces include union ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Arjun Ram Meghwal, and possible candidates include Rajya Sabha MP Dr Kirodi Lal Meena and Lok Sabha MPs Diya Kumar, Rajyavardhan Rathore, and Sukhveer Singh Jaunpuria.

Vasundhara Raje, 70, a two-term Chief Minister and a member of the Scindia royal family, is unlikely to return, even if she is widely seen as the BJP's tallest and most influential leader in the state.

How the party handles Ms Raje, who has maybe the most appeal to non-BJP voters, will be critical, since she will almost certainly not sit in the Assembly as a MLA under another chief minister.

The BJP's first list - around 49 seats - for Rajasthan is expected soon, possibly after Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party boss JP Nadda's meet in Jaipur this evening.

Baghel Vs Baghel In Chhattisgarh

The BJP has gone a different route in Chhattisgarh, where it has named Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's nephew, Vijay, as its candidate for the top post. And, in a predictable twist, the party will want family divides to play out in its favour, for it has planned a 'Baghel Vs Baghel contest.

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BJP MP Vijay Baghel (L) and (R) his uncle, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel

Vijay Baghel, who is also a Lok Sabha MP, will fight from Patan in the Durg district. The seat has flip-flopped between the two since 2003, with the Chief Minister winning the last two polls.

READ |A "Baghel vs Baghel" Fight In Chhattisgarh? BJP Pits Nephew Against Uncle

Other potential BJP candidates include Union Minister Renuka Singh and Rajya Sabha MP Saroj Pandey. Significantly, the BJP hasn't yet named former Chief Minister Raman Singh in its lists.

Battle For Telangana

The BJP's tilt at Telangana is part of its ongoing 'Mission South' plan - to establish a government in South India, a part of the country that has frequently rejected its hardcore nationalist agenda.

The party did have Karnataka but its stuttering government was ousted by a dominant Congress earlier this year. Kerala remains completely immune to its charms, and Tamil Nadu has also rejected Prime Minister Modi's party; on Tuesday the AIADMK walked out of the party-led NDA.

READ | "Happiest Moment": AIADMK Ends Alliance With BJP, Exits NDA

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have also proven to be hard nuts to crack.

The former is due to vote in November and Union Minister G Kishan Reddy is a possible big-name candidate. Mr Reddy, who is from Telangana's Thimmapur region, is also the party's state boss.

There is talk Lok Sabha MPs Bandi Sanjay Kumar and Arvind Dharmapuri, both also from Telangana, may be fielded, as may the party's OBC Front leader and Rajya Sabha MP Dr K Laxman.

The fifth state going to the polls this year is Mizoram, where the BJP faces a potentially different kind of challenge - the knock-on effect of ethnic violence in neighbouring Manipur.