Madhya Pradesh had the highest number of ministers in union cabinet after Uttar Pradesh. Excluding Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan there was a time when nine leaders from state occupied ministerial berths. However, three fell vacant after Union Environ and Forest Minister Anil Madhav Dave passed away a few months back, Najma Heptaullah was made Governor of Manipur and Faggan Singh Kulaste resigned on Friday.
The other ministers are Narendra Singh Tomar, Sushma Swaraj, Thavar Chand Gehlot (all Lok Sabha members) Prakash Javdekar, M.J. Akbar (Rajya Sabha member) and Uma Bharti, former MP chief minister but Lok Sabha member from Jhansi of Uttar Pradesh.
With the three seats from state falling vacant, it is expected that at least two leaders will be accommodated from state keeping in mind the assembly polls next year. Prahlad Patel, member of Lok Sabha from Damoh seat, is a front-runner as he was a minister of state during previous NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
With leaders like Narendra Singh Tomar already having two major portfolios of rural development and urban ministry is likely to be eased with one of the department.
With Union minister of state for health Faggan Singh Kulaste who is a tribal face of party in south-eastern Madhya Pradesh asked to resign and rumours of Uma Bharti, too, meeting the same fate, the vacancy might be given to new faces of state.
Besides Patel, other front-runners from the state are Virenadra Kumar, a dalit MP for seven times, Ganesh Singh, MP from Satna seat and Rakesh Singh, MP from Jabalpur. Since BJP is expecting an electoral downslides in the regions represented by these leaders they may be promoted to infuse energy among the cadres of their respective regions.
Sources say that BJP national president Amit Shah has already discussed the issue of the prospective names with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan along with the party organisation.
Interestingly, no one is ready to comment on the reported resignations of ministers. When Uma Bharti was confronted with journalists who asked about the rumours of her resignations, she said, “I am not authorised to speak on the issue; you can ask party president or the person authorised by him.”
BJP has 26 MPs from the state which has a total of 29 parliamentary seats. The remaining three Congress seats are represented by senior party leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamalnath and former union minister Kantilal Bhuria.
BJP national president Amit Shah, during his recent visit to Bhopal, had asked party unit to focus on the three Congress seats.
With the proposed Union cabinet reshuffle, it is expected that some new leaders may be promoted keeping an eye on these Congress seats as BJP has made it a prestige point to defeat these invincible Congress leaders.