The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday, 9 August, appointed Bilaspur Lok Sabha member Arun Sao as the Chhattisgarh party president as it looks to rev up its organisational machinery in the Congress-ruled state ahead of the Assembly polls due next year.
Sao (53), an Other Backward Class (OBC) member, has replaced prominent tribal leader and former Union minister Vishnu Deo Sai, who was leading the state BJP since June 2020.
The party announced his appointment in a statement.
“Sao, the first-term MP from Bilaspur constituency, has been appointed as the BJP's Chhattisgarh unit chief by party national president Jagat Prakash Nadda," a BJP leader said.
'Will Make Lotus Bloom Again in Chhattisgarh': Former State CM Raman Singh
Sao, a lawyer by profession, had been engaged in various activities as the ABVP member and other organisations since 1990, he said. He had also been active as an RSS worker, the leader added.
Chhattisgarh's former chief minister Raman Singh congratulated Sao and said BJP leaders and workers will work with full dedication under his leadership to bring the party back to power in the state.
“Heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to MP Shri Arun Sao ji on being appointed as the state president of Chhattisgarh BJP. With renewed energy and enthusiasm under your leadership, we all party workers will work with full dedication, and will make the lotus bloom again in Chhattisgarh,”Raman Singh, former Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh
However, state Congress communication wing chief Sushil Anand Shukla said the removal of the tribal leader from the state BJP president's post on the World Tribal Day, being observed on Tuesday, reflects the "anti-adivasi thinking of the BJP".
According to political experts, there might have been a consensus to opt for the OBC face in view of the next year elections as the community constitutes a major part of the state's population and considerably influences poll outcomes.
Move May Benefit BJP in Assembly Polls: Senior Journo & Political Analyst, Das
“In Chhattisgarh, the OBCs account for around 45 percent of the more than 2.55 crore population of the state. In the 2018 Assembly election, they largely supported the Congress and ensured its massive victory," senior journalist and political analyst R Krishna Das told PTI.
The move to choose an OBC community member as the state chief may benefit the BJP in polls, he said.
“Sao is known for his strong base among the lower cadre and is said to be a neutral leader. He could be a good choice to mobilise party workers,” Das said.
Since the formation of Chhattisgarh in 2000, the BJP had put faith mostly in tribal community members to lead the party in the state.
Tribal leaders like Nandkumar Sai, Shivpratap Singh, Ramsevak Paikra and Vikram Usendi, apart from Sao, had served in the position.
But, present Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik and former MP late Tarachand Sahu, who had also served as the state BJP chiefs, were from the OBC communities, a party leader said.