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BJP high command opted for a long term planning in deciding on new Chief Ministers Party is building a talent pool for preparing future Govt functionaries


By Harihar Swarup

BJP's top leadership seems to act in unconventional ways. That relates to its unexpected choice of chief ministers in three states, Vishnu Deo Sai in Chattisgarh, Mohan Yadav in Madhya Pradesh and Bhajan Lal Sharma in Rajasthan. To the public at large, and often the know-it-all media, these names could have been randomly picked up. ..

There is, however, some method (or pattern) to the apparent madness. Did anyone know that in 2001, when many names were being touted as possible successors to Keshubhai Patel, a backroom Sangh talent like Narendra Modi would be chosen as CM of Gujarat? We now cannot imagine BJP without him. The same goes for the choice of two-term Manohar Lal Khattar in , or Shivraj Sigh Chouhan (after the experiment with Uma Bharti and Babulal Gaur in 2003-05) in Madhya Pradesh.

The induction of Sai in Chattisgarh, Yadav in MP and Sharma in Rajasthan, the last two by overcoming tried-and-tested popular claimants to the job, should be seen in this light. The media is going to town saying it is about looking for the next generation of leaders. But Chouhan is hardly old at 64. His replacement, Yadav, elected three times from south Ujjain, is 58, nearly 12 years older than what Chouhan was when he was selected to lead MP in 2005. Khattar was 60 when he took as CM of Haryana in 2014.

Vasundhara Raje whose claim in Rajasthan was over looked this time, is, however, 70, but her replacement must have been the hardest for the party to arrive at since BJP does not have a large majority in the state.

So, the assumption that BJP is looking for the next generation is only partly true. There are actually four reasons why BJP makes the kind of choices it does.

Big leaders: First, whenever there is a strong central leadership, leaders in the state have to be in alignment with them, and not rival centres of power.

Experimenting: The next reason is about experimenting with new talents — where success is not guaranteed. To succeed, any new leader must be able to govern, have good ties to the organisation, and have political savvy- a difficult combo to find in one human being.

Bench strength: Unlike Congress, which has had many years in power and hence has the bench strength for heading governments of ministries, BJP did not have this depth when Modi took over in 2014. Hence the need to create a long-term bench for future leadership and government positions.

Vote arithmetic: BJP is seeking to build a lasting electoral coalition of Hindu castes and communities. And, this can happen only if dominant interests in various states see the party as the right ladder to advance their own political careers.

Social engineering: Chhattisgarh's Sai is a tribal, and his two deputies are from OBC (Arun Sao) and Brahmin (Vijay Sharma) communities. In MP deputies Rajendra Shukla and Jadish Deva are Brahmins and scheduled caste respectively while CM Yadav is an OBC. MP CM Yadav could also be a signalling device for neighbouring UP, where Yadavs are mostly not with, BJP. Narendra Singh Tomar, a Rajput and till recently in the central cabinet, will be speaker in MP. Sharma in Rajasthan is a Brahmin, and his two deputies are Rajput and Dalit. While this pattern of balancing community faces is not unique to BJP, the party was one of the earliest to experiment with social engineering after the country was Mandalised.

Overlooked talent pool: there is, however, one strength special to BJP; it has an additional pool of talent to tap for positions in government and the party. Most parties have three sources of potential leaders; core insiders, external inductees, and previously apolitical talent from bureaucracy or the corporate sector: BJP has one more source and that is the Sangh Parivar. (IPA Service)


The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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