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Does only Congress high command decide on CM candidate? Well, not really

By Smriti Pathak
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New Delhi, Dec 14: The elections to the five state assemblies are over. Deliberations on who would be the Chief Minsters of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan went on late into the night. At the end of it, the decision to appoint Kamal Nath as the MP CM was taken. The names for Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are likely to be finalised today.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi

Questions are being raised over the selection process and why the final call is being taken by the party president, Rahul Gandhi. The delay in naming a CM is also being questioned, although it has just been a little over two days since the election results have been declared.

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Such issues normally crop up when a party does not name its CM face ahead of the elections. The Congress had not named any person as the CM face ahead of the elections and when the poll is one such a situation is bound to rise due to the number of contenders for the top post.

The BJP too faced a similar situation in Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The party went into the elections, without naming anyone as the CM face and before the final choice was made there was a considerable amount of delay and not to mention the bickering from within owing to the number of contenders for the post.

In the appointment of the CM or leader of the party, the norm is usually that the legislators elect the person they want. However more often than not, this is a process that takes place only after the party high command steps in and then asks the legislators to vote for the candidate. It is only when an election is fought with a CM face does this process take precendee without the high command having to step in.

In Maharashtra, the front runner for the post was Devendra Fadnavis. While it was thought to be a done deal, there was some amount of confusion that cropped up with the name of Nitin Gadkari cropping up. Adding to the confusion was the fact that the BJP did not get a clear majority in Maharashtra as a result of which the views of the Shiv Sena had to be taken.

The Shiv Sena felt that a more seasoned person like Gadkari would be best suited for the job. Gadkari at first while ruling out returning to state politics however added that he would abide by any decision that the party leadership takes. Finally the central BJP sent in Rajnath Singh and J P Nadda to sort out the issue, following which the legislators were told to elect Fadnavis as the leader.

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The BJP did face some hiccups before it could appoint M L Khattar as the CM of Haryana.

The field was open and there were many frontrunners. The party leadership had to bear in mind that there was a consolidation of non-Jat voters in the state, which meant that the party could not have appointed a Jat CM. In the race to the top post were Kishan Pal Gujjar; Rao Inderjit Singh, the scion of the Rewari dynasty and a prominent Yadav leader; Ram Bilas Sharma, the State BJP president and the party's Brahmin face in Haryana; and finally Khattar, an organisational strongman.

During his appointment the media had cited his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However the party made it clear that it was Khattar who built the party in Haryana. The central leadership took into account various aspects before making Khattar the CM.

Gujjar and Singh were already junior ministers in the union government. Moreover Singh had just joined the BJP from the Congress.

The selection of Yogi Adityanath was also marred with confusion. The BJP had scored a mammoth win in Uttar Pradesh and the question was who would rule this prestigious kingmaker state. During the process of choosing a CM, several names such as Keshav Prasad Maurya, Rajnath Singh were doing the rounds. It was even said that Yogi was a surprise pick.

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However media reports later went on to say that Yogi was the choice of both Modi and Amit Shah. Further it was stated that Shah had asked Singh months before the UP campaign on whether he would be interested in becoming the CM. But Singh is said to have refused the job and said that the party should fight the election without a CM face.

It was also said that there were surveys conducted and Yogi was a point ahead. But among the BJP supporters, the two leaders were tied. Finally after much deliberation and almost a week later, Yogi was as the CM of Uttar Pradesh.

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