By appointing national vice-president Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma as election in-charges of the party for the upcoming Jharkhand assembly elections, BJP has shown its election plan. 

Chouhan, the new Union agriculture and rural development minister, has been appointed as in-charge and Sarma as co-in-charge for the assembly elections likely to be held in November-December this year, where the BJP will be up against the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-led INDIA bloc. 

Election in-charges in the BJP play a critical role in the process, from campaign planning and ticket distribution to booth management on polling day. Rajya Sabha MP Laxmikant Vajpayee was the election in-charge of the party’s state unit in the Lok Sabha elections.  

While the state leaders resorted to the usual pleasantries, welcoming the appointment of the two leaders, party insiders said the decision shows the realisation of the central leadership about the challenge it is up against in the state. 

However, these two BJP top guns -Chouhan and Sarma- have a major challenge to understand the pros and cons of intra-party feud and complex tribal - Christian tribal- non tribal- Mullwasi( local) politics.

In any case, in the last assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the party had only one in-charge. The appointment of the above two to a relatively smaller state like Jharkhand shows the mindset with which the BJP’s central leadership is approaching the assembly election. 

The relative setback to the BJP in the Lok Sabha election was also visible in Jharkhand, where the party’s tally reduced after losing all five tribal seats. This also shows the party is not willing to leave everything in the hands of the state leadership,” a senior BJP leader said. 

Party insiders said the central leadership will hold a review of the Lok Sabha electoral results of Jharkhand in New Delhi on Tuesday, which will be attended by top leaders from the state. 

They added that the decision to change the in-charge within a fortnight of the Lok Sabha election reflects that the party is already in election mode. “It’s still around four months before the model code of conduct kicks in in the state. 

This early announcement of in-charges has also been done to give them enough time to tour the state, as they also have critical roles at the Centre and in Assam,” said another BJP leader. 

While Himanta Biswa Sarma campaigned extensively in the state, Chouhan attended two events in Godda Lok Sabha — one roadshow in Godda and a rally in Mehgama. 

Insiders said with Shivraj in charge, the party workers expect the Madhya Pradesh model of booth management in the assembly elections.

Another insider said, that ex-CM and ex-Union Minister Arjun Munda, who has knowledge about the electoral politics and sitting idle after losing the LS polls in Khunti, should be involved in decision-making to fight against the INDIA block comprising JMM, Congress, RJD and Left parties.

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