The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday named Bhajanlal Sharma, a first-time MLA from Sanganer Assembly constituency, as the new chief of its legislature party in Rajasthan, paving the way for him to be named the next chief minister of the state.

Rajsamand MLA Diya Kumari and Dudu legislator Prem Chand Bairwa have been named Sharma’s deputies. Ajmer North MLA Vasudev Devnani will serve as the Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly.

The announcement came over a week after the BJP registered its victory in Rajasthan, clinching 115 of the 199 Assembly seats. Sharma had won the Sanganer seat by defeating Congress’ Pushpendra Bhardwauj by 48,081 votes.

Before becoming the longest-serving BJP general secretary in Rajasthan, Sharma had been associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the BJP’s ideological group the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Former BJP MP and now an MLA from Rajasthan’s Jhotwara Assembly, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Tuesday said that the party has a strong leadership in state under Sharma. “Heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Honourable Shri Bhajanlal Sharma ji on being nominated as the chief minister of Rajasthan,” Rathore said.

The BJP had not announced any chief ministerial candidate for the Assembly polls in the three Hindi heartland states.

It was speculated that former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Union ministers Arjun Ram Meghwal, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Ashwini Vaishnaw were among the frontrunners for the post.

However, Sharma’s appointment to the top post is in line with the party’s selection of chief ministers in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where it also won the polls earlier this month. On Monday, the party named Mohan Yadav, a three-time MLA from Ujjain, as the next chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.

The BJP had announced Vishnu Deo Sai as the next Chhattisgarh chief minister on Sunday.

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