BJP's Madhya Pradesh Surprise: Mohan Yadav To Be Chief Minister

Mohan Yadav, 58, the Higher Education Minister in the outgoing government, was elected from the Ujjain Dakshin seat and replaces Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Mohan Yadav is the new Chief Minister of the BJP (File).

New Delhi:

The BJP has named a surprise pick as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh - Mohan Yadav, 58, a leader from the Yadav OBC community. OBCs make up more than half of the state's population but, interestingly, the Yadav community is not among the most influential.

On Monday evening, Mr Yadav was elected as leader of the BJP's legislative party - 15 days after the party routed the Congress to win Madhya Pradesh. The outgoing Higher Education Minister, he thanked the BJP, saying, "I am a small party worker... I thank the party for this opportunity."

"I thank all of you... state and central leadership (and), with your love and support, I will try to fulfil my responsibilities," Mr Yadav, festooned with garlands, said after the meeting of the MLAs.

Soon after the BJP announcement, Mr Yadav met Governor Mangubhai Patel and staked a claim to form the next government.

READ | Who Is Mohan Yadav, New Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh

In a key move seen as an emphasis on unity, Mr Yadav was nominated by outgoing Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a four-time head of the state government. "Other senior leaders... (former union ministers) Prahlad Patel and Narendra Singh Tomar, and (National General Secretary) Kailash Vijayvargiya supported the proposal, the BJP's state unit boss, VD Sharma, told reporters.

The BJP, in a bid to soothe ruffled feathers ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election, also named two deputy chief ministers - Jagdish Devda and Rajesh Shukla. Mr Devda was elected from Malhagarh by nearly 60,000 votes and Mr Shukla, who won the Rewa seat for a fifth time by around 21,000 votes.

Both Mr Devda and Mr Shukla also held cabinet berths in previous Chouhan governments.

Mr Tomar, one of three former cabinet members to contest the election, is the Assembly Speaker.

There was speculation he was in the running to succeed Mr Chouhan to the top post, as were Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and Mr Patel. Both Mr Scindia and Mr Patel are also from OBCs. Mr Shukla, who must now be content with a deputy's post, was believed to be a dark horse.

Shortly after Mr Yadav was announced, Shivraj Chouhan offered his congratulations, signalling an amicable transfer of power. Mr Chouhan hailed his successor as a hard-working person.

READ | Watch: Shivraj Chouhan Blesses Mohan Yadav, Who Replaced Him

"I am confident that, under the able guidance of respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, you will take Madhya Pradesh to new heights of progress and development and will create new records in the field of public welfare. Many congratulations and best wishes for this new responsibility!"

The appointments end suspense over the identity of two of three chief ministers for the states the BJP won on December 3. Vishnu Deo Sai was named Chhattisgarh Chief Minister on Sunday.

READ | Tribal Leader Vishnu Deo Sai Is New Chhattisgarh Chief Minister

Now, of the five states that voted in November, only Rajasthan is without a Chief Minister; the Congress, which won Telangana, has installed Revanth Reddy in the top post and, in Mizoram, the fledgling Zoram People's Movement claimed an impressive win and Lalduhoma is Chief Minister.

READ | Revanth Reddy Takes Oath As Telangana Chief Minister, Gandhis On Stage

A three-time MLA from Ujjain, Mr Yadav's appointment has also been seen as the end of the political road (at least in the state) for his predecessor. Mr Chouhan is a four-time Chief Minister and arguably the BJP's tallest leader in the state, but seemed to have been side-lined in favour of a campaign based on "collective leadership" built around Prime Minister Narendra Modi's face.

The strategy reaped dividends; the BJP won 163 of 230 seats and the Congress, which actually won the 2018 election but saw its government fall two years later, was left with just 66, down from 114.

That campaign, though, also drew heavily from the popularity of Mr Chouhan's many welfare schemes, including the 'Ladli Behna Yojana' that emerged as his flagship measure.

The BJP's win defied several exit polls' predictions of a tight race with the Congress.

Mr Yadav's delighted wife, meanwhile, thanked Lord Shiva for her husband's elevation.

"Bhagwan Mahakal ka ashirwad hai... party ka ashirwad hai (This is thanks to the blessings of Lord Shiva... and the blessings of the party). He has been working with the BJP since 1984. Whenever he came to Ujjain, he went to offer prayers to Mahakal..." she told news agency ANI.

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