Lot at stake for regional satraps ahead of counting of votes for assembly polls

New Delhi:¬†When counting of votes for four assembly polls are over on Sunday, their results will not only have a major impact on the country’s political landscape but may also mark a defining turn in the fortunes of several regional satraps, especially in the BJP, around whom politics in their states have revolved for decades.

Stakes are especially high for BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who is banking on his government’s welfare schemes to stave off the challenge from the Congress and also those within his party looking to displace him as its leader in the state.

With the BJP not naming him as its chief ministerial face and making several regional bigwigs, including Union ministers, fight the polls to send out a message of collective leadership, he has run an intensive campaign marked by attempts to make emotional connect with voters as their avuncular ‘mama’ to restore his primacy in the state’s politics.

The BJP’s performance will decide if the party’s longest-serving chief minister will bounce back strongly or will have to contend with an uncertain future.

He has been at the helm since 2005 except for a brief period after the 2018 polls when Kamal Nath led a Congress government for about 15 months.

In Rajasthan, adverse poll results are likely to have more than immediate bearings on the fortunes of both Congress leader and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his predecessor Vasundhara Raje of the BJP.

Like Chouhan, Gehlot too is banking on his government’s welfare measures to break the western state’s nearly three-decade practice of the ruling party being voted out in every election.

A loss may make the Congress to look beyond the OBC leader, a three-time chief minister, who has not enjoyed the best of equations with his party leadership, while Raje’s future too will depend on the BJP’s performance.

Political experts believe that the BJP leadership may be looking for other chief ministerial options in the state if the party scores a big win but any other result may limit its choices and brighten her prospects.

How many BJP satraps, including Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Prahlad Singh Patel and 18 other MPs, fare in the seats they are contesting besides the areas of their influence is bound to affect their political future, more so as the Lok Sabha polls are round the corner.

Seven BJP MPs each are contesting in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan while four are in Chhattisgarh and three in Telangana.

A lot is also at stake for Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia as well, as the results will be a reflection on his political standing, especially in the Chambal-Gwalior region, after joining the BJP as the party looks to turn the tables on the Congress in an area where it had suffered serious reverses in the 2018 polls.

Scindia was then in the Congress.

In Chhattisgarh, political watchers will be looking at the fate of Raman Singh, chief minister between 2003-18, after the results are out.

Singh (71) has had to contend with a lower profile after losing power five years back as the BJP looked at promoting a new line of leadership in the state. But frequent praise of his government’s performance by the party’s top brass, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the stump has boosted the buzz around him.

Votes cast in the Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana assembly polls will be counted on Sunday. The counting of votes for the Mizoram assembly polls is scheduled for Monday.