Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and his Cabinet colleague Prahlad Patel resigned from the Lok Sabha along with eight other MPs on Wednesday after the ruling BJP decided that all MPs elected to Assemblies of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will quit Parliament. The move was interpreted in the political circles as an indication of the BJP effecting a generational change in the three States where the party has won in the just-concluded Assembly polls.

The main contenders for the Chief Minister’s post in three States – Shivraj Singh Chouhan in MP, Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan and Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh – have a strong claim and it is not certain whether the BJP would replace them with new faces before the 2024 general elections.

Other MPs who quit are Rakesh Singh, Udya Pratap Singh and Riti Pathak from Madhya Pradesh; Kirodi Lal Meena, Diya Kumari and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore from Rajasthan and Gomati Sai and Arun Sao from Chhattisgarh. All except Meena are Lok Sabha members. Meena is a Rajya Sabha member.

BJP president J P Nadda accompanied 10 of them as they tendered their resignations from Parliament. Two others, Union Minister Renuka Singh and Mahant Balaknath, will also be quitting, party leaders said.

Patel said they took Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blessings before tendering their resignations.

Tomar, a seasoned organisation man, and Patel, who comes from politically significant other backward classes (OBC), are seen as possible alternatives to Shivraj Singh Chouhan who has been CM in MP since 2005 except for five months when Kamal Nath headed a Congress government after the 2018 Assembly polls.

Amid speculation within the party that its leadership may pick one of the outgoing MPs as the new CM of Rajasthan, where veteran leader Vasundhara Raje is also in race, its senior functionaries said political factors involving social equation will be a key consideration in naming three Chief Ministers.

Raje (70) is a two-term former CM but her equation with the party’s national leadership has not been very smooth.

Possible contenders

Sao, an OBC, and Sai, who comes Scheduled Tribes, are seen as serious contenders due to their social background, image and relatively young profile. Raman Singh (71), a three-term former Chief Minister, is also being talked about but there is a view that the BJP leadership is looking for a generational change in leadership.

However, to replace strong CM contenders for fresh contenders may be a risky venture just before the Lok Sabha polls when the BJP would expect to get the maximum seats in these States. At the same time, the party is likely to send a larger message about its social agenda with its CM choices.

Sources also did not rule out the possibility of having Deputy Chief Ministers in the States to balance social equations and add to administrative heft.