New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party is facing new trouble in Madhya Pradesh. Senior party leader and former Chief Minister Uma Bharti seem to be on a collision course with the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government over various issues.
It is learnt that the party’s central leadership is trying hard to convince Bharti to stop her proposed anti-liquor agitation against the BJP’s state government as it could send a very bad message among voters. Bharti has been targeting the party on its liquor policy and also threatened to launch a state-wide agitation against the BJP government in the state on November 7 and continue it till January 2023, during which she would move around Madhya Pradesh.
She has been openly attacking the Chouhan government over its liquor policy. And had also written to the BJP’s national president JP Nadda on the issue. This is also being seen as an attempt by the senior leader to resurrect her political career in state politics.
Alarm bells went off in the BJP after senior congress leader and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh came out in support of Bharti over her prohibition demand. It is believed that Congress may fan a rebellion in the state unit to hand the BJP an embarrassing 2018-like defeat.
Earlier, in a confrontation with the Narendra Modi government, Bharti had tried to offer Jal Abhishek at Raisen's fort temple, which is an Archaeological Survey of India protected monument.
Bharti is also an OBC leader, just like Chouhan, and commands a lot of respect and following in the state. She has been one of the main leaders of the BJP for the past two decades and has the unique distinction of serving as Union Cabinet minister and chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.
Sources stated that if Bharti decides to rebel and field candidates against the BJP it could end up hurting the saffron party. “Any rebellion could end up giving benefit to the Congress. Madhya Pradesh is a state that witnesses a direct contest between Congress and BJP. This possible rebellion could eat into the vote share of the BJP,” sources added.
If the party is unable to reach out and convince Bharti to take back her agitation it could end up ruining the BJP’s plans for the 2023 Assembly polls and 2024 Lok Sabha polls, sources said.
Madhya Pradesh is scheduled to go for Legislative Assembly polls late next year. And it is believed that a defeat in the Assembly polls could also adversely affect the party’s prospects in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in the state.
This is the reason that the saffron party is trying hard to convince Bharti to drop her proposed anti-liquor agitation, sources said.
With 29 Lok Sabha seats, Madhya Pradesh has been important in the BJP's scheme of things for the past several years. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP party had secured 27 seats in the 2014 general election while it had bettered its performance and secured 28 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP feels that if it is able to win the forthcoming Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh its chances of retaining its tally of Lok Sabha seats from the state would be much better. The state has been playing a crucial role in the formation of a Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
In 2018, the BJP was only able to secure 109 out of 230 seats in the MP Assembly, paving way for the formation of a Kamalnath-led government after Congress was able to win 114 seats. Though the BJP was later able to engineer a split in the Congress and come back to power under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan.