Ending days of suspense, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday picked Mohan Yadav, a three-time MLA from temple town Ujjain as the new chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, once again reposing its faith in the numerically strong Other Backward Classes and denying stalwart Shivraj Singh Chouhan a record fifth term in office.
More than a week after the Bharatiya Janata Party's resounding victory in the assembly polls, the ruling outfit's legislature wing elected Yadav (58), a minister in the Chouhan government and a prominent OBC leader, as its leader at a meeting held here in the presence of central observers, paving the way for him to take over as the next CM.
The state will also have two deputy chief ministers -- Rajendra Shukla and Jagdish Devda -- outgoing chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan posted on X.
Senior BJP leader and newly-elected MLA Narendra Singh Tomar, who was among contenders for the CM's post, will be the new assembly speaker, Chouhan said.
Chouhan (64) proposed the name of Yadav, the BJP MLA from Ujjain South, for the top post, giving Madhya Pradesh its fourth OBC chief minister in two decades, a development which comes months ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha polls where the saffron party is eyeing a third term in office at the Centre.
Yadav, who was not seen as among contenders for the CM post, is considered to be close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and hails from the OBC community, which accounts for more than 48 per cent of the state's population.
He was first elected as an MLA in 2013 from Ujjain South and retained the assembly seat in 2018 and again in 2023. The BJP legislator was serving as the higher education minister in the Chouhan cabinet.
The BJP gave Madhya Pradesh, post-bifurcation and creation of Chhattisgarh in 2000, its first OBC chief minister when Uma Bharti took charge of the top post in 2003.
After Bharti, Madhya Pradesh saw two more OBC CMs from the BJP -- Babulal Gaur and Chouhan, who held the post for a record 18 years across four terms, barring a 15-month Congress rule (December 18-March 2020).
Late in the evening, Governor Mangubhai Patel invited Yadav to form a government in the state and handed over a letter pertaining to his appointment as the next chief minister, an official said.
Soon after his election as the leader of the BJP legislature party, the BJP legislator, accompanied by senior leaders, went to the Raj Bhavan here to stake a claim to form the next government.
The Governor, after accepting the resignation of outgoing Chief Minister Chouhan, handed over a letter to Yadav appointing him as the new CM, the official said.
Patel also invited Yadav to form his council of ministers, he added.
However, it was not immediately known when the swearing-in ceremony of the new CM and his council of ministers will take place.
Earlier, Chouhan, who dominated MP politics for nearly two decades, submitted his resignation to Governor Patel soon after Yadav was chosen as his successor, bringing curtains down on an era.
The BJP retained power in MP in the November 17 assembly polls, winning 163 seats in the 230-member assembly, leaving the Congress a distant second with 66.
In run-up to the polls, the BJP did not project a CM face and relied heavily on the mass appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who campaigned extensively in the state.
Madhya Pradesh BJP president VD Sharma said the central leadership has taken the "best step" in picking Mohan Yadav as the next chief minister.
Congratulating Yadav, Sharma said, "The party has chosen an ordinary and good worker as the legislature party leader".
“From day one, I had been telling to the media that the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, Amit Shahji, and BJP president JP Naddaji will take the best step for Madhya Pradesh," he told reporters.
The CM-designate said he would work to fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and thanked the BJP leadership for reposing faith on a "small worker".
"I am going to work to the expectations of the people of the state who have overwhelmingly voted for the BJP. The BJP has given a big responsibility to a small worker. I am going to work to the expectations of the party," Yadav said.
"I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda. I will work on the welfare and development (schemes) launched by Modiji and (outgoing) chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan," he added.
Yadav started his political career when he was a college student and rose to become higher education minister of Madhya Pradesh where he announced to make Hindu epic ‘Ramcharitmanas' as an optional subject in colleges in 2021.
The 58-year-old politician, considered to be close to the RSS, is seen as a vocal Hindutva leader.
He became a minister for the first time in 2020 when the BJP came back to power following the collapse of the Congress government led by Kamal Nath.
Yadav was born on March 25, 1965, in Ujjain, the city synonymous with the famous Mahakaleshwar Temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva), one of the 12 Jyotirlings. He began his political career as joint secretary of Madhav Science College Ujjain in 1982 and was later elected as its president in 1984. Yadav holds a doctorate (PhD) besides LLB and MBA degrees.
Yadav has been associated with the RSS since his young days and from 1993 to 1995, he was its functionary in Ujjain city, said an office-bearer of the Hindutva organisation.
He has also served as chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) from 2011-13.
Yadav, the higher education minister in the Chouhan government, defeated his nearest rival, Congress candidate Chetan Yadav, by margin of 12,941 votes in the November 17 polls.
In 2021, Yadav had announced to include the lessons of Hindu epic Ramcharitmanas as an elective (optional) course under the philosophy subject for first-year students of graduation (BA).
The 16th-century epic poem is based on the life of Lord Ram and is considered by several scholars to be among the world's greatest literary creations.
Yadav had also moved a proposal to rename the Hindi nomenclature of the vice-chancellor's post in state universities from 'Kulpati' to 'Kulguru'.
He is the first leader to become CM from the temple town of Ujjain where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had dedicated the newly-constructed Mahakal Lok corridor last year.
The BJP MLA, who is married to Seema Yadav, has two sons and a daughter.