THE BJP is likely to fight the Assembly polls in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand, all three ruled by the BJP, under the leadership of incumbent Chief Ministers, party leaders have said. While BJP President Amit Shah made it virtually clear at a rally in Haryana on Friday that Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar will again be the party’s choice for the post, sources said Maharashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis and Jharkhand’s Raghubar Das will be the party’s chief ministerial candidates in their respective States. At the rally in Jind, Shah urged voters to give his party 75 seats in the 90-member Assembly for the return of a “Manohar Lal Khattar sarkar”.
“All three Chief Ministers have ruled their respective States for five years. Their performance is one of our key poll planks. They are the obvious choice for heading the respective Government if the BJP returns to power,” a party leader said. The BJP had fought the 2014 Assembly polls in the three States without projecting a chief ministerial face and announced its picks only after the results were declared. While in Haryana, the BJP won 47 Assembly seats, it bagged 122 of Maharashtra’s 288 seats and 37 of Jharkhand’s 81 constituencies.
A senior BJP leader said all three leaders have run “scam-free and honest” Governments in the States which, under the preceding dispensations, were associated with “corruption of huge proportions”. “Be it Khattar, Fadnavis or Das, all three enjoy a clean image among the people,” he claimed. The BJP is confident of retaining power in all three States riding on popular support to recent decisions by the Modi Cabinet, work of their own Governments in the States and “disarray” in the Opposition camp.