Bhargav, an eight time MLA, was in the race with four others — former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who eventually distanced himself; Chouhan’s aide Rajendra Shukla; former minister Narottam Mishra who is considered to be in the books of the party leadership and outgoing speaker Sitasharan Sharma.
Home minister Rajnath Singh who was appointed central observer alongside state in-charge Vinay Sahastrabuddhe to oversee the process. Singh claimed it was former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who had proposed Bhargav’s name and it was seconded by Narottam Mishra. Mishra was a contender for the post and many believe he has been promised something by the party to backtrack in this contest.
Sources, however, claimed that the central observers had one-one-one chats with over two dozen senior MLAs in order to forge consensus before the legislature party meeting got underway.
Meanwhile, Singh fended off queries on Centre proposing 10% reservation quota for the upper castes saying it has been conveyed to the media what has been proposed. “We would inform you as and when anything fresh happens.”
Former chief minister Chouhan also had visited New Delhi to meet top party leaders in this regard.
However, his nominee and the former minister Rajendra Shukla was nowhere in the contention when the legislature party meeting took place.
Bhargav has served as Panchayat and Rural Development minister in Shivraj Singh government and was made a minister first time in 2003.
His nomination is widely seen as BJP’s growing anxiousness over resentment of unreserved categories over the quota issue. MP was among the state singed by the anti-quota stirs.
As Bhargav, MLA from Rehli in Sagar district, was picked up as the leader of Opposition, RSS also took control of things to an extent as names including former minister Narottam Mishra who has party high command’s backing and Rajendra Shukl, the choice of exCM Shivraj Singh Chouhan also were in the hunt.
Bhargav, being the senior most MLA in the House, had emerged as the hot favourite for the post after Chouhan had expressed unwillingness for the responsibility.
Representing Rehli assembly seat continuously since 1985, Bhargav has won from here for consecutive eight times and is the second MLA after exCM Babulal Gaur (with ten wins).
An aggressive and outspoken politician Bhargav managed to secure win in 2018 assembly polls even as over a half a dozen Shivraj ministers lost due to anti-incumbency. The senior MLA a few days ago had called on the RSS officebearers in Bhopal.
Meanwhile the script for a Brahmin Leader of Opposition was written on Dec 11 when the BJP faced a wipe out in Gwalior-Chambal region where the intensity of the anti-quota stir was the most. Sensing that its traditional upper caste vote bank was drifting away, it was almost certain that the saffron party would pick a Brahmin face for the post of Leader of Opposition.
The party has already set eyes on tribal vote bank while nominating Vijay Shah for the post of speaker in MP assembly.
Early in the day, the BJP attended the first day of the maiden assembly session without the Leader of Opposition as Protem speaker Deepak Saxena administered oath of office and secrecy to newly elected MLAs.