Bhopal:While the inaugural session of the 15th assembly of Madhya Pradesh begins on Monday, the national BJP leadership has not yet decided on the post of leader of opposition in the state.
Four prominent Brahmin faces are in the race for the crucial post and top leaders of the party, including union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, are meeting in the evening to zero in on the name. The name of the shortlisted candidate will be announced after the meeting, sources said.
Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has distanced himself from the race and those in the contention include his close aide and former minister Rajendra Shukla, former minister Narottam Mishra — who is in good books of party high command — and Gopal Bhargav, senior MLA and former minister who braved the Congress onslaught in assembly when the BJP was in power. Bhargav is also known to be close to the RSS leaders. Outgoing Speaker Sitasharan Sharma is also a frontrunner for the post.
Chouhan’s remark before assembly election when he said, “koi maai ka laal aarakshan nahin hata sakta (no one can dare remove reservation)” was seen as a key reason why upper castes turned against the BJP ahead of assembly polls. But with party favouring Brahmin candidates, it is evident that quota is still an important factor for the saffron party.
If Shivraj Chouhan is given a say in the decision-making, his close aide Shukla, known to be an amicable leader, could bag the crucial post. But since the party wants to corner Congress on every possible issue ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, aggressive leaders like Narottam Mishra and Gopal Bhargav may prove better choices.
The BJP is keen to cash in on the dissent in Congress camp over ministerial berths, but despite prolonged deliberations at Chouhan’s residence late on Sunday night, it could not finalise any name.