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Why BJP picked Nayab Singh Saini as new Haryana CM

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: March 12, 2024 17:57 IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party's decision to have a second OBC leader -- Nayab Singh Saini -- join its rank of 12 chief ministers marks its determined push to consolidate the community's votes and blunt the opposition's attempt to weaken its support base ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

IMAGE: Nayab Singh Saini, centre, being greeted by BJP's Arjun Munda and Tarun Chugh, on getting appointed as the chief minister of Haryana, in Chandigarh on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Three months after the BJP made the surprise pick of Mohan Yadav to replace another Other Backward Classes (OBC) leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan as Madhya Pradesh chief minister, the party on Tuesday chose Saini, a first-term MP and its Haryana president, to take over from Manohar Lal Khattar.


Saini's elevation as Haryana chief minister fits in with a pattern that has gathered pace in the BJP after the Congress and its allies like the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar began making an aggressive bid to woo the largest group of communities and politically most significant, especially in Hindi-speaking states, by pushing for a caste census.

Following its big win in three Hindi heartland states in December, the BJP replaced its four-term CM Chouhan with Yadav and brought a few other leaders from OBCs and other traditionally disadvantaged sections like SCs and STs as chief ministers and deputy chief ministers.

Vishnu Deo Sai (ST) became Chhattisgarh CM while one of his two deputies, Arun Sao, hails from the OBCs. Jagdish Devda, one of two deputies to Yadav, is a Dalit and so is Deputy Chief Minister Prem Chand Bairwa in Rajasthan.

While Chouhan also came from a backward community, Yadav comes from a caste that is most numerous in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, both of which together account for 120 Lok Sabha seats and were swept by the BJP and its allies in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Yadavs have a sizeable presence in many other states.

The BJP had last year made Samrat Choudhary, a Kushwaha, its Bihar state president and further boosted his profile by making him one of its two deputy CMs in Bihar under Nitish Kumar.

Saini's eponymous caste also has a fair presence in several Hindi states and Kushwahas and Malis, both backward castes, also identify with it, political watchers say.

Yadav and Saini are also homegrown backward BJP leaders as they have had a long innings in the party at its various organisational level. Having risen through the ranks, they will serve as the BJP's fitting answer to opposition OBC satraps like SP president Akhilesh Yadav and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, both heir to powerful political families.

While Rahul Gandhi has spearheaded the Congress' outreach to the OBC with the demand of caste census, the Yadav satraps from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been reaching out to different castes under the group to take on the BJP.

The BJP has sent Mohan Yadav to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar since he became chief minister to connect with his community, which forms a solid base of the SP and the RJD in these states respectively.

Saini is likely to be its another backward face, especially for the non-dominant OBC castes whose support to the BJP has been crucial to its rise in a number of states since Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the party to power at the Centre in 2014.

Saini's appointment also gels in with the BJP's exercise to elevate a younger lot of leadership.

He, like Yadav and Rajasthan's CM Bhajan Lal Sharma, is in his 50s while Sai turned 60 last month.

That his taking over as Haryana chief minister may be useful for the party in its bid to consolidate non-Jat votes behind it is given, BJP leaders have said, but it is hopeful that his name will have a resonance beyond the boundaries of the relatively small state.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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