Neither Shivraj Singh Chouhan nor Jyotiraditya Scindia, the new face of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh is Mohan Yadav. A three-time MLA and a tall leader from the other backward classes (OBCs) from BJP’s bastion of Malwa region, Yadav is not new to administrative politics. Earlier, he was the education minister in the Chouhan cabinet and before that —during 2004-10— he had also served as the Chairman of the Ujjain Development Authority.
With a rooted history in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and a formidable background as an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthee Parishad (ABVP) leader, Yadav is expected to strengthen the Hindutva narrative in the Hindi heartland. While the decision of the party to depute Yadav as the next CM took most political analysts by surprise, insiders think this is the biggest political masterstroke of the BJP ahead of the upcoming general elections.
Two major factors that likely worked behind Yadav’s selection are the resurgence of OBC politics in North India following Nitish Kumar’s caste survey in Bihar and his loyalty to RSS.
BJP Eyes On OBC Votes With Yadav Face
Madhya Pradesh with more than 50 per cent OBC votes has been having CM from the community for more than two decades. However, after Babulal Gaur who was the CM of the state following Uma Bharti’s dismissal in 2004, the state didn’t have any Yadav leader. Gaur’s political legacy though continued for years until he retired from formal politics in 2018, no other Yadav leader could take his space.
The recent formation of INDIA coalition and the renewed friendship between Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) —two quintessential Yadav parties— have perhaps made BJP rethink this strategy.
“One has to look into the politics of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to understand Yadav’s selection. After the Bihar caste survey, they have understood the population strength of Yadavs. They have given a Savarna CM to UP; so to influence the politics of Bihar, they chose him,” says Sulabh Singh, a political strategist based in Bhopal. It also fulfilled the requirement of having an OBC Chief Minister.
The decision of the BJP to have a tribal CM in Chhattisgarh, followed by an OBC CM in MP with an SC deputy CM —Jagdish Devda— highlights the representative politics of the party, adds Singh. Interestingly, the party has chosen upper caste leader Rajendra Shukla as the second deputy of Yadav.
While talking about the caste representation, as reflected in Yadav’s selection, Ashish Agarwal, Spokesperson of MP BJP, says, “The Congress gives only fake promises and BJP walks the talk. Yadav is an educated, highly qualified leader who will be leading the party through the next five years.”
As per the website of Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, Yadav has a law degree besides an MBA and a PhD.
Yadav’s Loyalty To RSS
The second factor that worked behind Yadav’s emergence as the CM is his loyalty to RSS. “He is an organisational man. His history with ABVP makes him qualified to lead the party in the coming days,” says Dharmendra Paigwar, a senior journalist from Indore.
Yadav’s connection to ABVP and RSS coupled with his caste identity made him one of the most suitable candidates for the state, adds Paigwar.
Yadav was the minister of ABVP’s MP unit during 1991-92 when the Hindi heartland was fuming in communal tensions before the demolition of Babri Masjid.
Big Role For Chouhan Awaiting?
But what will be the political future of Shivraj Singh Chouhan? After leading the party to such an overwhelming victory, it was expected that the party would retain him as CM. However, insiders think that big roles are waiting for him.
“BJP fought the elections in the name of PM Modi and they didn’t declare any CM face. Times come when the new generation gets the chance and replaces the older ones. But Chouhan will play a more important role in the central leadership of the party in the upcoming days,” says Paigwar.
“It might be possible that he would be made a union minister in 2024,” says Singh.
Sources said that there are possibilities of Chouhan becoming the national president of the party after JP Nadda. However, BJP MP Spokesperson Agarwal says, “This is the prerogative of central leadership. They will decide on the future role of Chouhan ji.”