Encouraged by its runaway success in the municipal corporation elections in Delhi, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre is mulling replicating the MCD experiment in the upcoming state assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year and in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka next year.
This would mean the majority of sitting MLAs in these states would not get party tickets to contest the elections.
According to senior BJP leaders, this model has been under discussion among the top leaders of the party for some time and was implemented for the first time in the just held MCD elections.
Now, that the experiment succeeded, the leadership has to only firm up its mind for implementation elsewhere.
Party sources said report cards are already being prepared about the performance of MLAs in the poll-going states.
This exercise began under a well-crafted strategy soon after Amit Shah took over the reins of the party. Shah is credited with the view that the only way to beat anti-incumbency is to weed out non-performers. He is said to have the blessings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It is admitted in party circles now that all upcoming polls in the near future will be held under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In other words, there is little likelihood of anyone being projected as the chief ministerial candidate.
This may create intra-party tensions in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where party veterans Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Raman Singh, respectively, are well entrenched as chief ministers. Their writ runs in these states.
Sources said the party leadership some time ago toyed with the idea of moving these leaders to the Centre to preclude any chances of friction on poll-eve.
This, however, did not materialise. First, there was an attempt to get Scindia into the union cabinet. She is, however, learnt to have resisted and the plan remained a non-starter.
However, the plan may be revived, according to party insiders, who said the central leadership is not too happy about Rajasthan.
Many BJP MLAs have been complaining about the CM’s “autocratic” ways of functioning, said Scindia is considering appointing a prominent foreign agency for an image-building exercise in the run up to the assembly elections.
If that happens, it will run counter to what the central leadership wants ~ pushing only brand Modi.
The leadership does not visualise any issue with the other two chief ministers, Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Raman Singh, both of whom are said to be in sync with the party’s line of thinking.
After winning Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the recently held assembly elections, the BJP wants no let up of any kind in other states. It is conscious of the anti-incumbency factor in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh.
By bringing in new faces, the leadership feels the anti-incumbency factor will be somewhat contained. The Modi magic will take care of the rest, it is felt.
Denying tickets to large number of MLAs will have its own repercussions. Many sitting MLAs may turn rebels creating problems for official candidates.
These considerations are weighing in the leadership’s mind but it is willing to weather such “minor storms” if and when they come.
Party sources said MLAs in these states are aware of the leadership’s thinking and are careful about their conduct and performance.
They have little option, anyway. The BJP is already flooded with requests from middle- rung leaders of other parties who want to break rank and join the saffron surge.
Significantly, the fear of not getting party tickets is gripping the minds of many BJP MPs too even though the elections are two years away.
They know that without Modi they could not have made it to the Lok Sabha. They have been told in parliamentary party meetings clearly that the leadership is watching their performance closely.
No wonder, attendance by BJP MPs is excellent during the Parliament session and they avoid making statements on controversial issues.
In private, however, they make no secret of their annoyance and anger.