Millennium Post

'Kamal' set to bloom after Nath; Chouhan among top contenders

Bhopal: With the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh collapsing, speculation is rife on who would be the BJP's choice for the chief minister's post: Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Narendra Singh Tomar or some dark horse.

The state is set to get a BJP-led government now as the 18-day-long political drama ended on Friday with chief minister Kamal Nath's resignation. Chouhan has been chief minister thrice. He had the longest tenure as the state CM during 2003-2018, before Nath wrested the chair from him.

He is percecived as the front-runner for the post, but the million-dollar question is whether the top BJP leadership would favour him.

"Looking at the way the BJP leadership takes a decision these days, no one can say confidently that a particular individual stands a good chance. Because such decisions are now taken in the Congress-like `high-command style', a BJP source said. "There is so much element of surprise in selection of a leader that nobody except the top leadership (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) knows who will be the chief minister," he said.

Even Union home minister Amit Shah, considered the number 2 in the party, may not be sure about the choice for the new CM, the the BJP leader added.

The appointment of Khajuraho MP Vishnu Dutt Sharma as the Madhya Pradesh BJP chief was totally unexpected, the source pointed out, saying the choice for CM's post could throw up another surprise.

BJP sources also said that besides Chouhan and Tomar, another contender could be Union Minister for Social Justice Thawar Chand Gehlot, as he would be equally acceptable to the top party leadership as well as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Gehlot has served as national general secretary in- charge of Gujarat as well as Delhi. Also, he belongs to Scheduled Caste category, which could weigh in his favour. "A meeting of the party's parliamentary board will be held in Delhi in the evening. The candidate for CM's post will be decided at the meeting," sources said.

Jabalpur MP and former state BJP chief Rakesh Singh said the top leadership will pick up the next CM.

Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava too said that "whomsoever the party chooses, he will be the chief minister."

With the Speaker accepting the resignations of remaining 16 rebel Congress MLAs on Thursday, the ruling party's strenght was reduced to 92 MLAs in the 230- member house. The effective strength of the Assembly was 228 as two seats were vacant. The current strength is now reduced to 206, and the BJP has majority with its 107 members.

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