Khargone, Apr 17 (PTI) Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Nandkumar Singh Chauhan has expressed his “desire” to be relieved of the charge, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan disclosed today, setting off speculations about the exact trigger behind the senior BJP leader’s ‘request’ to step down in a poll year.

Interestingly, Nandkumar’s ‘request’ to relieve him came days after he kicked up a row saying that “the Kathua rape-murder might have been committed by Pakistan’s agents to divide the society”.

“The state BJP unit president told me over phone last night that he wanted to be relieved of the charge he has been holding because he wanted to concentrate on his Khandwa Lok Sabha seat,” Chouhan told reporters in Bhikangaon town in Khargone district.

Sources in the state BJP said that a group of leaders wanted Nandkumar out as they believe that he might not be able to provide a strong leadership ahead of the assembly elections, due later this year.

Nandkumar became the president of the state BJP unit in August 2014 replacing Narendra Singh Tomar. He was declared elected unopposed to the post in January 2016.

Names of a few ministers are doing rounds to succeed Nandkumar in case the BJP leadership decides to replace him.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.