Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan during National Panchayati Raj Divas celebrations in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, India Image Credit: ANI

Shivraj Singh Chauhan, incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister (CM) of Madhya Pradesh, India is nervously looking over his shoulders while steadfastly channelling Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh CM, who is the role model for all BJP CMs.

Chauhan is the longest serving CM in MP’s history yet lacks the political heft and swagger. Therefore his nervousness that he may be being replaced as the face of the BJP in the election bound state.

Vasundra Raje Scindia, the tallest BJP leader in Rajasthan shares Chauhan’s predicament and appears to have a better understanding with Ashok Gehlot, Congress CM, than with the rivals foisted on the BJP state unit by the central BJP.

Read more

In some ways the “Congressification” of the BJP is complete as leaders without a mass base or proven electoral ability are preferred to rooted strong state satraps like Chauhan, Scindia and even B S Yediyurappa.

Leaders who try and raise their public profile like Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra are ruthlessly cut to size.

Except for Yogi Adityanath, who is the BJP’s electoral totem in Uttar Pradesh, with its outsize haul of 80 Lok Sabha seats, crucial for the BJP’s Mission 2024 — leaders who draw their power and influence from “Delhi” are preferred.

The “Delhi influence”

Periodic attempts are made to showcase “Delhi influence” in Lucknow by sending Amit Shah’s trusted aide Sunil Bansal back to UP for election management.

Yogi Adityanath felt that Bansal in his earlier run had emerged as a “alternate power centre” and ensured that he was moved out of UP.

Even the “protective shield” extended over the controversial Brij Bhushan Saran Singh in the alleged sexual harassment case of the women athletes is more about checkmating Yogi Adityanath in the crucial Ayodhya area where Singh calls the shots.

The unilateral announcement by Singh that he would contest the elections again from Kaiserganj tells you how he calls the shots in the BJP.

BJP leader Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has now been charged with sexual harassment

Singh is anathema to Yogi Adityanath as they both compete for the Thakur vote in UP.

I spoke to four BJP leaders for this SWAT analysis and one asked a very interesting question. He said can you or anyone else interested in Indian politics recall the names of all the Gujarat CMs post Modi’s tenure as chief minister?

I feebly came up with Anandibehen Patel, Modi’s immediate successor and then frantically Googled. The results: Patel was replaced by Vijay Rupani, who was sacked for Covid mismanagement and now the incumbent Bhupendrabhai Patel, who in turn is guided by Delhi leaders in all elections.

BJP’s main electoral weapon

A senior BJP leader tole me, “we fight all elections in the name of Modi. Narendrabhai is our main electoral weapon. But, remember one thing, nothing can grow under the shade of a giant banyan tree”.

As more and more “pracharak” (RSS full timer) leaders like M L Khattar, Haryana CM, are imposed, Modi becomes indispensable to BJP’s electoral wins.

In some ways the “Congressification” of the BJP is complete as leaders without a mass base or proven electoral ability are preferred to rooted strong state satraps like Chauhan, Scindia and even B S Yediyurappa


Even in Karnataka B L Santosh, the BJP’s organisational secretary — the link with the RSS — called the shots and took all crucial decisions. Unfortunately for the BJP his electoral lack of experience torpedoed the BJP campaign and ensured that he did not get his dream job as Karnataka CM.

Chauhan is nervous about the rise of Jyotiraditya Scindia, aviation minister who wrecked the Congress led Kamalnath government when he walked out of the Congress with 22 legislators.

Ironically then Chauhan benefited to re occupy the CM’s office. Now an impatient Scindia — with his band of legislators — is breathing down his neck. Scindia makes no bones about the fact that he wants to be CM of MP.

Meanwhile, his aunt Scindia is locked in a permanent conflict with the central BJP who want to replace her with Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, currently the minister for water resources and an avid Modi disciple.

The entire BJP is watching the fate of Chauhan and Scindia because it will signal the way the party will go. Watch this space.