BJP has appointed Vishnu Dutt Sharma, MP from Khajuraho and General Secretary of Madhya Pradesh unit as the chief of state unit, on Saturday. “BJP chief honourable Jagat Prakash Nadda ji has appointed Shri Vishnu Dutt Sharma as the president of the Madhya Pradesh unit,” said the party is official release.
The appointment of Sharma, a Brahmin from Northern Madhya Pradesh, where BJP suffered a massive setback due to resentment from upper caste, is being seen as a step to placate upper caste, especially Brahmins, who have traditionally voted for BJP, but chose otherwise in 2018 assembly election.
Sharma, a man of RSS, is credited with strengthening the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the RSS, in Madhya Pradesh in 1990s, as per report by PTI. The appointment of Sharma, who was previously national general secretary of ABVP and joined BJP only in 2013, came as a surprise to many.
In the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly election, BJP lost by a few seats. The party won 107 seats in the 230 member assembly against 114 of the Congress party, which made the government in alliance with BSP, SP, and Independents. BJP won higher popular vote percentage with 41 against 40.9 of Congress party.
The party lost power due to poor performance in northern Madhya Pradesh or the Gwalior Chambal region, where the party won only 7 seats out of 34 against 20 in the last election. The political analysts have concluded that the resentment of upper caste, especially that of Brahmins who are very influential in the region, cost BJP the state.
The upper caste in the region, which has traditionally voted for BJP, opted NOTA or Congress in the 2018 election, as they wanted to ‘teach a lesson’ to the party. The reason behind upper caste’s resentment was pro-reservation steps by the party and pro-reservation statement by the then Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
In July 2016, Chouhan made a statement saying “koi maa ka laal aarakshan khatm nahi kar sakta” which literally translates into – no one can dare to do away with reservation. This has infuriated the upper caste voters. After that, just before the elections, the BJP government at the centre decided to overrule the Supreme Court’s ruling on SC/ST act through an amendment passed in parliament.
The upper castes across the country are against Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which, in many cases, has been used by the lower caste people to harass them unnecessarily. Therefore, the Centre’s decision to overrule the SC ruling did not go well with the masses and they decided to teach BJP a lesson.
The party lost the 2018 assembly election despite improving its tally in almost every other region of the state. The loss of 13 seats in northern Madhya Pradesh cost the party as its 15 year-long uninterrupted rule in Madhya Pradesh came to an end, and since then, the party has tried to placate the upper caste through important position in the party.
In order to placate Brahmins, BJP first chose Gopal Bhargav, a Brahmin, as the Leader of Opposition, and now Sharma has been appointed as state unit chief. The post was lying vacant since Rakesh Singh’s term came to end.
The appointment of Sharma is being considered a wise move by BJP, whose decision to bank on non-dominant caste in Maharashtra, Haryana, and Jharkhand backfired massively. The party had appointed a Brahmin as leader of Maharashtra, a Punjabi Khatri as leader of Haryana and a non-tribal OBC in Jharkhand. The party lost two states in next election and has to share power in the third, and since then, the party has been carrying out course correction. A few days ago, the party appointed a Maratha as Maharashtra BJP chief and now a Brahmin as MP chief.