BJP girds loins to stem likely revolt courtesy Modi Formula

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Raipur, Oct 12 (UNI) The Bharatiya Janata Party is busy preparing to stem a possible internal revolt in Chhattisgarh following implementation of the Modi Formula for the year-end assembly polls.

Party sources told UNI here today that there was a likelihood of about one-and-a-half dozen MLAs, including a few ministers, being denied tickets to counter an anti-establishment factor. A strategy was being finalised to tackle a possible revolt.

BJP President Rajnath Singh -- who served as the party's general secretary in charge of this state -- himself picked up the gauntlet in this context, camped here for about 20 hours yesterday, gathered minute details of the conditions and lectured on 'party discipline' to ticket-seekers.

''The tickets will be decided at Delhi, not in Raipur,'' he said.

Chief Minister Raman Singh said that new faces would be given opportunities and ministers' tickets were also not fixed. The hint has gone down to the bottom rung -- ministers and legislators alike find themselves on shaky ground.

''I was invited by the election and state in-charges who did not state the reason for the invitation. I will take part in whatever meetings they ask me to attend,'' Mr R Singh told reporters.

The sources said that it would be no easy task to apply the Modi Formula in Chhattisgarh. On account of Gujarat being a large state, a major revolt also could not prevent the saffron party from returning to power but Chhattisgarh has only 90 seats and even a minor protest can create a challenge.

The BJP President was accompanied by Gen Secy (Organisation) Ramlal, Regional Secy (Organisation) Saudan Singh, Election In-charge Ravi Shankar Prasad and State In-charge Dharmendra Pradhan. Mr R Singh returned to Delhi this morning.

A breather for the BJP is that Chhattisgarh has no towering leader such as former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel who could raise a strident voice of protest. However, several tribal leaders are incensed over being ''neglected'' and are perfectly capable of inflicting damage at local levels.

The saffron party holds most seats in tribal areas and its biggest challenge is likely to be retaining them. The main opposition Congress has been fanning its allegation that tribal leadership is being finished in the BJP. Even tribal leaders have been raising -- at party fora -- their ''neglect'' and ''greater importance'' being given to traders.

The sources said that the BJP wishes to reduce annoyance by providing opportunities to fresh faces in Bastar and Surguja but is at the same time pensive that the move might boomerang. For the BJP, wooing the Sahus is another challenge as the Congress state President hails from that community which is the deciding factor on about half the seats and has traditionally leaned towards the BJP.

UNI AS-AC 1816

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