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Shivraj Chouhan's Close Aide Replaced as BJP MP Chief, But He Has Last Laugh

Though MP Rakesh Singh had emerged as consensus candidate to take over as Madhya Pradesh BJP chief, party sources claim he was not the first choice for the post.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:April 19, 2018, 7:28 PM IST
Shivraj Chouhan's Close Aide Replaced as BJP MP Chief, But He Has Last Laugh
File photo of BJP Vice President Shivraj Singh Chouhan. (PTI)

Bhopal: While the BJP’s decision to change its Madhya Pradesh unit chief has come as setback for Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, he still managed to get some leverage by stalling the party high command’s choice for the post.

Though MP Rakesh Singh had emerged as consensus candidate to take over as MP BJP chief, party sources claim he was not the first choice for the post.

He replaced Nandkumar Singh Chauhan who, sources said, was a close confidante of Shivraj.

Moves to curtail Shivraj’s influence in the party comes after the BJP lost the bypolls in Mungaoli and Kolaras even after Shivraj led the campaign from the front, with sources claiming that the party wants to pin the blame for the defeat on him.

Given his proximity with the party high command especially with the party chief Amit Shah, Parliamentary affairs minister Narottam Mishra was said to be the obvious option to replace Nandkumar.

Though other names including state home minister Bhupendra Singh, GAD minister Lal Singh Arya and party general secretary VD Sharma were in the fray, Mishra was considered to be the frontrunner.

At the party’s core committee meeting in Bhopal on Tuesday evening, Mishra’s name was considered certain. However, sources said, Shivraj sensed that the odds were being stacked against him and announced a cabinet meeting late at night, indicating he could do something drastic if his choice was not agreed upon.

Soon after, Bhupendra and party organizational general secretary Ram Lal called on Shivraj and upon their return briefed the party that the CM was not ready to accept Mishra’s name, sources said.

The party high command was briefed of the developments and, after some negotiations, Rakesh Singh’s name was agreed upon.

Nandkumar’s ouster is still a blow to the Chief Minister as he let him handle the party according to his wish without much interference, sources claimed. Hinting at changes, former CM Babulal Gaur on Wednesday said from now on, the BJP affairs in MP won’t be a one man show.

Rakesh, who comes with vast organisational experience, is not known to be a vocal politician. He, however, always maintained cordial relations with party seniors. He is also considered a close aide of senior leader Prahlad Patel who holds much sway in New Delhi.

He also has a good relationship with Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who has been appointed head of election management committee.

Besides, Rakesh is a close relative of Bhupendra, a close aide of Shivraj. Given the junior stature of the state head, seniors like Patel, Tomar and Faggan Singh Kulaste are expected to have much say in party affairs from now on, sources said.

Though the party high command did not manage to impose its choice on MP unit but by appointing Tomar as head of election management committee, it has made sure the state government works under close supervision of party organization, sources said.

Though Tomar was close to CM Shivraj in the past, of late, he has switched loyalties by increasing proximity with the party high command, they added.

Mishra, Kulaste and Arya, who represent tribal and Dalit community, along with Patel have also been accommodated in the committee. Mishra and Patel are known Shivraj detractors.

| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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