After days of speculation and brainstorming, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday picked MLA Bhajan Lal Sharma as the new chief minister of the state. The decision was taken during the party’s legislative meeting held under the leadership of the three central observers.
First-time MLA Bhajan Lal Sharma, who was appointed as the new chief minister of Rajasthan on Tuesday, is currently serving as a member of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly and represents the Sanganer Assembly constituency, mostly dominated by Brahmins.
An upper-caste candidate, Sharma also served as the State General Secretary for the Bharatiya Janata Party four times.
Following the 2023 Rajasthan Legislative Assembly election, he was elected as an MLA from the Sanganer Assembly constituency. He is from Bharatpur but was not given a ticket there as the seat was not seen as a winnable one.
Sharma secured his position by defeating Pushpendra Bhardwaj, the candidate from the Indian National Congress (INC), with a margin of 48,081 votes.
The CM-designate has been associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Apart from Sarma, MLA Diya Kumari and Prem Chand Bairwa will be the deputy chief ministers and Vasudev Devnani the speaker of the state assembly.
The legislative meeting took place at the BJP office in the presence of the party’s three central observers led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The two other observers are Vinod Tawde and Saroj Pandey.
All the newly elected MLAs were asked to compulsorily attend the meeting. Former chief minister Vasundhara Raje and Union ministers Arjun Ram Meghwal, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Ashwini Vaishnaw were said to be among the frontrunners for the chief minister’s post in Rajasthan, one of three states that the BJP won in the recent elections.
Reportedly, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, who was seated next to Rajnath, was the one to propose Sharma’s name for the top post, which was accepted by party MLAs.
The BJP won 115 seats out of the 199 that went to polls. Polling was postponed in one constituency due to the death of a candidate. Several BJP MLAs have called on former chief minister Raje in recent days in what was seen as a show of support, amid speculations the party may spring a surprise this time.