BJP May Drop 50% Of Mlas For ’22 State Polls To Blunt Anti-Incumbency

Following the changes in chief ministers in Gujarat and Uttarakhand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is considering dropping as many as half of the state parliamentarians to combat anti-incumbency in the states that will vote in 2022, according to party officials familiar with the situation.

According to a senior party official, the party lost 15-20 per cent of its incumbent MLAs in the preceding assembly elections, but the proportion could be substantially higher this time due to popular unhappiness with a variety of governance difficulties.

Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, and Himachal Pradesh will hold elections in 2022.

“The party has conducted ground polls in numerous states to gauge public opinion. MLAs were also requested to submit their service report cards from the previous five years, which were compared to the conclusions of the party. Those whose efficiency has fallen short of expectations will not be rehired,” the functionary added on condition of confidentiality.

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The MPs' performance would be judged on factors such as how they spent local area development funding, projects that empower the marginalised, and their participation in the party's massive Seva Hi Sangathan programme, which was started amid the pandemic. People's opinion on the government's functioning was solicited through surveys conducted across constituencies.

“The Covid-19 epidemic presented a unique difficulty. While the government contributed by improving health facilities, assuring immunisation, and increasing medical supplies, the party also contributed by organising relief efforts. Following the Seva Hi Sangathan campaign, the party president (JP Nadda) had instructed each state unit to buy politicians to feed the hungry, aid those who have lost their employment, and achieve 100 per cent vaccination in their local booths. The effort performed by MLAs on the seva side will be counted as well,” added the official.

The party's top priority has been to combat anti-incumbency. As a result, the central leadership decided to oust Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. A new cabinet was also sworn in to assist revive the party core in the state, which will hold elections in late 2022.

In Rajasthan, BJP lost 43 incumbent MLAs in 2018, including four ministers. Over a dozen current MLAs in Jharkhand were also replaced with fresher and newer personalities reflecting women and SC/ST communities,” he said.

Ticket allocation is determined by several factors other than performance. Considering the growing demand for a caste-based census, a second functionary claims that the BJP will have to choose faces that will increase its outreach among the castes it courtesy for beneficial electoral outcomes.

To broaden its voting base, the BJP has been pursuing an alliance of non-dominant castes. It has invested in non-dominant castes in areas like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, but with a shift in political rhetoric following the need for a caste census, the party has been forced to reconsider its stance. It has since nominated a Patidar chief minister in Gujarat and a Thakur chief minister in Uttarakhand.

Professor M M Semwal, chairman of the political science department at the HNB Garhwal Central University in Uttarakhand, believes that removing sitting MLAs serves the dual objective of shifting public attention and reducing public discontent.