‘Five CM changes were done to manage internal dynamics and demands by state leaders and not due to electoral loss’.


New Delhi: Five BJP CMs have taken oath in the short tenure of 26 months since Jagat Prakash Nadda assumed the role of working president of the party in June 2019. After Nadda was appointed as the working president replacing Amit Shah, Assembly elections were held in 11 states including Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Delhi, Bihar, Assam, Kerala, Poducherry, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam.

Out of these 11 states, the BJP was the party in power on its own in four states (Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Assam) before the elections. However, out of these four, it lost power in Maharashtra and Jharkhand. Significantly, these five CM changes have been implemented to manage internal dynamics and demands by state leaders and not due to electoral loss.

According to party observers, this pattern points to either of two things—Nadda’s awareness of the demands of the state leaders and different pressure groups within the party in the states due to which he does not mind in replacing CMs or the fact that he is not as “strong”, as one senior BJP functionary stated, as his predecessor when it comes to handling internal “dissent” which resulted in the dropping of CMs in Uttarakhand, Assam and Gujarat. However, the emergence of this pattern has now encouraged the party leaders in Bihar (where the BJP is the bigger partner in the alliance with the JDU), Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and Haryana who want their respective incumbent CMs to be replaced for one reason or the other. As of today, the BJP has CM of its own in 12 states. Following the March 2021 polls in Assam, the incumbent Sarbanda Sonowal was changed despite the party winning the elections after his party colleague Himanta Biswa Sarma prevailed on the central leadership to appoint him. In Uttarakhand, the state is now being governed under the third CM since the state went to elections in February 2017. The first CM Trivendra Singh Rawat was replaced in March 2021 with Tirath Singh Rawat. Tirath’s tenure, however, lasted only 116 days and he was changed in July 2021 and replaced with the incumbent Pushkar Singh Dhami.

In July this year, the BJP changed its incumbent CM B.S. Yediyurappa in Karnataka while replacing him with Basavaraj Somappa Bommai. The factors behind replacing BSY, as he is commonly referred to as, who is approaching 80, were many including age, caste and image. Last week, the sitting Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was dropped and Bhupendra Patel, a virtual no-one among the party ranks, was appointed in his place. This was done to assuage the anger of the influential Patel community who for long have supported the BJP in the state, but were gravitating towards the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).