Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Prahlad Singh Patel resigned from Lok Sabha on Wednesday as the BJP decided that all of its 12 MPs recently elected to state assemblies will quit Parliament, amid strong indications that they may join the new governments in Madhya Pardesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
The move has given risen to the view that the party leadership may bring in new faces at the helm in all the three states. Senior leaders, however, declined to comment on such a development.
BJP president J P Nadda accompanied 10 of them as they tendered their resignations from Parliament. Two others, Union minister Renuka Singh and Mahant Balaknath, will also be quitting, party leaders said.
Other MPs who quit are Rakesh Singh, Udya Pratap Singh and Riti Pathak from Madhya Pradesh; Kirodi Lal Meena, Diya Kumari and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore from Rajasthan and Gomati Sai and Arun Sao from Chhattisgarh.
All except Meena are Lok Sabha members. Meena is a Rajya Sabha member.
Patel said they took Prime Minister Narendra Singh's blessings before tendering their resignations.
All three Union ministers will also be quitting the Modi government as a procedural formality. Tomar is a Cabinet minister handling the crucial agriculture portfolio, and their departure have sparked a fresh buzz within the party on whether Modi will induct new members in his council of ministers ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Tomar, a seasoned organisation man, and Patel, who comes from politically significant Other Backward Classes, are seen as possible chief ministerial choices in Madhya Pradesh along with the incumbent Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been at the helm in Madhya Pradesh since 2005 except for five months when Kamal Nath headed a Congress government after the 2018 assembly polls.
Amid speculation within the party that its leadership may pick one of the outgoing MPs as the new chief minister of Rajasthan, where veteran leader Vasundhara Raje is also in race, its senior functionaries said political factors involving social equation will be a key consideration in naming three chief ministers.
Raje (70) is a two-term former chief minister but her equation with the party's national leadership has not been very smooth.
Sao, an OBC, and Sai, who comes Scheduled Tribes, are seen as serious contenders due to their social background, image and relatively young profile. Raman Singh (71), a three-term former chief minister, is also being talked about but there is a view that the BJP leadership is looking for a generational change in leadership.
A party leader noted the prime minister's recent exhortations that women, youth, poor and farmers are the four biggest castes for him, adding that this may play a role in final decision.
With Lok Sabha elections less than five months away, the party is likely to send a larger message about its social agenda with its chief ministerial choices.
Sources also did not rule out the possibility of having deputy chief ministers in the states to balance social equations and add to administrative heft.
The BJP has swept to power in the three Hindi-speaking states, dismissing the challenge from the Congress in all of them as it raced to a two-thirds majority in Madhya Pradesh and comfortable majority the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in the polls where Modi and his guarantees powered its campaign.
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