The BJP on Thursday declared its first list of candidates for the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh polls even before the Election Commission announces the dates for voting due in early winter.
The first-of-its-kind move by the ruling party at the Centre was projected as a change of strategy, drawing lessons from the recent defeats in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka. It was also seen as an admission that "Modi magic" alone cannot win state elections and that careful and advance planning is needed, BJP leaders said.
Usually, political parties announce candidates after the formal declaration of poll dates by the Election Commission although there is no such rule. For the BJP, too, this was the first time that candidates were announced before the poll dates have been made official.
The BJP on Thursday announced 21 candidates for the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly and 39 for the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top party leaders held a meeting.
“In Karnataka, most candidates were announced just a couple of days before the last day of filing nominations. This gave the leadership no time to manage internal rebellions over the party's choices,” a BJP leader said. “The announcement in advance will help us in managing frictions within the ranks,” the leader added.
BJP leaders said the seats for which the candidates were announced were “D-category” ones, most of which the party had lost in the last elections and assessments this time show that they remain tough frontiers.
The list reflected a focus on Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe seats. Of the 39 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, 8 were for SC seats and 13 for ST constituencies. Of the 21 candidates named in Chhattisgarh, 1 is an SC and 10 ST. One major reason for the BJP’s defeat in both states in the last elections was its poor performance in seats reserved for SCs and STs.
A sitting Lok Sabha member, Vijay Baghel, has been fielded from Patan, which is represented by Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel.