Raman Singh New Chhattisgarh Speaker, Two Deputies For Vishnu Sai: Sources

The deputies are state BJP chief Arun Sao -- a leader from the Other Backward Classes and Vijay Sharma -- a Brahmin.

Bhopal:

Vishnu Deo Sai, the BJP's new tribal Chief Minister in Chhattisgarh, will have two deputies -- part of the party's efforts to balance the caste equation in the state.

The deputies are state BJP chief Arun Sao --  a leader from the Other Backward Classes and Vijay Sharma -- a Brahmin.  

The party also could not ignore Raman Singh, who  has the experience of running the government for 15 years and is expected to play a crucial role in the BJP's campaign for 2024. Mr Singh, a Rajput, who was also a contender for the top post this time, will be the Assembly Speaker.

Along with Mr Singh, Arun Sao was also in the running for the top job in the state and the BJP is hoping that the extra prominence will help keep factionalism at bay.

Vijay Sharma is a general secretary of the party -- and along with the new Chief Minister -- also very close to Raman Singh. In the recently concluded assembly election, he defeated powerful minister Congress leader and state minister Mohamad Akbar from Kawardha  constituency by around 40,000 votes.

The BJP team selection for Chhattisgarh was made after a week of deliberations along the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's idea of having a tribal leader as the Chief Minister of the tribal-dominated state. The BJP has won all 14 assembly seats in the tribal-dominated Surguja region and eight of the 12 seats in Bastar this time.

For the representation of OBCs -- the other huge chunk of the state's population -- an OBC Deputy Chief Minister was named, sources said.

The BJP claims that Mr Sai is the first tribal Chief Minister of the state.

The party has always contradicted former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi's status as a tribal. His Scheduled Tribe status was challenged in the Chhattisgarh high court, which ordered that a committee be set up to examine the issue.

In 2019, a case was filed against him after his tribal status claim was rejected by a government-appointed committee.

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