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Congress’ much-ridiculed high command culture rubs off on BJP

| Updated: September 12, 2021 01:06

“Vijay Rupani’s remote control is with Delhi (Narendra Modi)”. When former Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia says this, he quite sums up the high-command culture that prevails in the BJP. This has been a favourite charge of the BJP on the Congress party for years.      

When Vijay Rupani was scalped on Saturday, he joined four other BJP chief ministers to be replaced midway through their term in less than nine months of 2021.

Political analysts go to the extent of saying that next in line could be the powerful Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath whose State goes to the polls in March-April 2022, months ahead of Gujarat.   

Along with the Covid-19 pandemic, the current year also saw a political crisis in Uttarakhand when Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat was replaced by Tirath Singh Rawat, who was himself replaced by Pushkar Dhami in four months. In Assam, Sarbanand Sonowal made way for Himanta Biswa Sarma and BS Yeddyurappa stepped down in Karnataka and replaced by Basavaraj Bommai.

This is the Gujarat model, where ministers and leaders are moved like pawns on the chessboard because the high command thinks so.    

Political scientist and former JNU professor Ghanshyam Shah wonders, “The change in Gujarat after that in other states could well be a prelude to what might be in store for Yogi Adtiyanath. His government has also come in for severe criticism.”  

Albeit, every State has its local factors to have the chief minister replaced but the frequency of this only exposes that the central leadership is either unable to make sense of the ground realities or just wants to send the message about who calls the shots.

When Vijay Rupani told mediapersons after his resignation that the BJP fights elections under the grand leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he was only conveying what Modi suggests by these removals of the CMs.

There is no denying the fact that it is Modi who rallied his party to thumping victories first in Gujarat and then at the Centre, but this has not been universally working in all the states, particularly since 2018.

The party did well in Karnataka in 2018, but could not rustle up a government without extensive poaching of the Congress MLAs. Subsequently, the BJP lost Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and then Jharkhand in 2019. It did form a government in Haryana but not without an alliance with the Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janata Party (JJP).

In Maharashtra, Shiv Sena walked out of the alliance with the BJP though they managed an adequate number of seats. And in Bihar too, they are a part of the coalition. The only saving grace was Assam.  

Yes, Narendra Modi does remain the most popular campaigner for the BJP but can he singularly pull it off is a question whose reply rests with the voters in UP early next year.

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