With Modi as mascot, BJP banks on heavyweights in battle for MP, Rajasthan

All eyes now on Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje hopes to be among CM contenders

modi-shivraj-pti Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves at supporters as he arrives to address BJP's 'Karyakarta Mahakumbh', in Bhopal | PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rallies came packed with political messaging. His two rallies in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on the culmination of yatras carried out by party leaders set the tone for the BJP's campaign in the upcoming polls in the states.

Casting aside all doubts, it became apparent that polls will be fought under collective state leadership with Modi as the main campaign mascot.

Women and first-time voters are the two constituencies that BJP is aggressively wooing as the additional push has come from the passing of the historic women reservation bill.

Modi addressed the rallies on the culmination of the yatras carried out in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where he spoke about “Modi guarantee” in fulfilling all the promises made by the government. Congress was his prime target as he reminded the electorate of corruption and lack of development during the tenure of grand old party.

As he skipped mentioning names of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former CM Vasundhra Raje in his respective speeches, it was noticed by party leaders. A clear cut signal came a few hours later as BJP announced the second list of candidates in Madhya Pradesh where it brought central leaders from the state to contest assembly elections.

Firstly, it signalled that the BJP was going all out to beat the anti-incumbency of its 20-year-rule in the state by bringing in heavyweights. It also sent a message that elections will be fought under collective leadership of cabinet minister Narendra Singh Tomar, MoS Prahlad Singh Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste, four MPs, and even BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. This puts several contenders in the race for CM.

After the Madhya Pradesh list, all eyes are on Rajasthan where Raje is is still eyeing a chance to be CM candidate. She shared the stage with PM Modi during the rally, even as she reportedly gave the yatra a miss during its passage from her constituency. As cabinet minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, also seen as her rival, met her before the rally, it was seen as rapprochement gesture.

The BJP has made several changes in its strategy since its loss in Karnataka. The elections to five states, months before the Lok Sabha polls, are often billed as the semi-finals.

The party had suffered loss in 2018 when polls were fought under the leadership of state CMs, but the party had done exceedingly well in 2019 polls when Modi was the main draw. This time the party is banking on a collective leadership which covers all the castes, regions in the states, along with Modi as the campaign face.

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