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BJP adjusts strategy, fields veterans for elections

When it nominated seven MPs, including three Union ministers, and a general secretary for Madhya Pradesh assembly elections and organised whirlwind tours of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP left no room for doubt about its singular resolve to retain power in the state at any cost. Behind its high-decibel campaign, powered by well-organised party […]

When it nominated seven MPs, including three Union ministers, and a general secretary for Madhya Pradesh assembly elections and organised whirlwind tours of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP left no room for doubt about its singular resolve to retain power in the state at any cost.

Behind its high-decibel campaign, powered by well-organised party machinery, the BJP also appears to have made a slight departure from its next generation’ approach to stay ahead of an aggressive Congress and enhance its prospects of securing a majority of seats.
The saffron party seems to have gone a bit easy over age this time by fielding 14 candidates who are 70-plus, with the oldest being 80. In contrast, the opposition Congress has fielded nine septuagenarians for the November 17 polls.

The BJP’s strategic shift to fielding veterans in Madhya Pradesh, contrary to its earlier emphasis on a younger generation, is seen by political observers as a response to setbacks in Karnataka. The party has chosen seasoned candidates aged 70 and above, possibly learning from the impact of prioritizing younger leaders in Karnataka’s elections.

Notable candidates include Nagendra Singh Nagod (80) and Nagendra Singh (79). Despite expressing reluctance earlier, both sitting MLAs are now in the fray. The move is deemed a pragmatic response to ensure experienced leaders contribute to the party’s success. The Congress, with a history of relying on senior leaders, has also fielded nine candidates aged 70 and above for the upcoming polls. The veteran-heavy approach reflects the BJP’s adaptability and strategic considerations based on electoral outcomes.

The BJP’s decision to allot tickets to veterans in Madhya Pradesh has raised eyebrows, especially considering Amit Shah’s 2019 statement about not giving tickets to those above 75. LK Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi missed out then. Analysts suggest this move is pragmatic, relying on experienced septuagenarians for power retention.

The BJP seemingly adjusts its strategy based on past results, as exemplified by Ramkrishna Kusmaria’s impact in Damoh. Kusmaria, denied a ticket last time, contested independently, affecting BJP’s performance. Post his return, he’s appointed chairman of MP State Backward Classes Commission.

Jairam Shukla notes the BJP’s earlier push for young leadership, causing discontent among veterans. The BJP now fields seven Lok Sabha MPs, emphasizing stalwarts like Narendra Modi. The Congress, which narrowly won last time, faced upheaval with Jyotiraditya Scindia’s rebellion, resulting in the BJP’s return. Experimentation in politics is common, and the BJP appears to learn and adapt, prioritizing winnability. The upcoming polls will test these strategic shifts in Madhya Pradesh.

BJP’s Criteria for Candidate Selection
Experience Over Youth: BJP opts for senior candidates, seen as a response to the party’s earlier defeat in Karnataka, where younger candidates were chosen.

Karnataka Election Fallout: Karnataka results prompt BJP to reconsider, favoring experience. Jagadish Shettar and K.S. Eshwarappa cited as examples.

Fielding Elderly Candidates: BJP nominates several veterans, including Nagendra Singh Nagod (80) and Nagendra Singh (79), both sitting MLAs.

Unwilling Candidates: Some of the veteran candidates expressed initial reluctance to contest, suggesting a shift in party dynamics.

Age Disparity: Contrasts emerge with AAP’s Prakhar Pratap Singh, the youngest candidate at 25, emphasizing age diversity in the election.

Notable Veteran Candidates: Jayant Malaiya (76), Jagannath Singh Raghuvanshi (75), Sitasharan Sharma (73), Bisahulal Singh (73), and others fielded by BJP.

Past Instances: Sartaj Singh (76) transitioned out in 2016 due to age, denied a ticket in 2018. Kusum Mahdele (80) also denied a ticket previously.

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