And why not?
the BJP it has installed three new chief ministers in three states in three months. This may have added an air of uncertainty about the fate of some other top BJP ministers.
So when Himachal CM Jai Ram Thakur was recently in Delhi on a sudden visit, the BJP had to clarify that it was a routine visit and that it had nothing to do with a possible changing of the guard in the state.
The change of chief ministers has been a hallmark of the high command culture of Congress.
But 2021 has seen the BJP follow the lead of Congress.
However, the leadership changes made by the BJP in the states are significant. It marks the end of an experiment that the BJP started around 2014, building on its unprecedented electoral success in national elections.
Breaking caste barriers
Let’s look at CM’s choice of BJP in three states, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana, after their victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to understand the party’s experiment to break the caste barrier in politics.
In Maharashtra, the BJP won 122 out of 288 seats in the 2014 assembly elections. The party’s ally, Shiv Sena, won 63 seats.
Maharashtra politics has been dominated by the Marathas, so it comes as no surprise that most of the state’s top ministers have been from the community.
But the BJP surprised everyone by choosing Devendra Fadnavis, a Brahmin, as its prime minister in the state.
In Jharkhand, the BJP won 35 of the 81 assembly seats in 2014.
Jharkhand, which is dominated by tribes, had chief ministers of the community since its inception in 2000, when it was carved out in Bihar.
However, the BJP once again defied the trend and selected Raghubar das, of the Vaishya caste (OBC), as the state’s non-tribal chief prime minister.
CBOs make up a significant population in the state, but the fact is that state politics has been dominated by tribes.
In Haryana, the BJP won 47 out of 90 seats in the 2014 assembly elections.
Haryana politics for decades has been dominated by the Jats, a landowning community.
So when the BJP elected Manohar Lal Khattar, one khatri per caste, as its prime minister, the indication was clear that the party wanted to break the caste barrier in the state.
This was after 2014.
Cut to 2019.
The BJP won a much larger national mandate in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, as it retained power with a majority.
However, the scenario was different in the states, many of which slipped out of the hands of BJP during the period.
Five years later, the BJP had lost in Jharkhand, was unable to form a government in Maharashtra due to the breaking of its alliance with the Shiv Sena and returned to power with a small number in Haryana, forcing it to enter into an alliance with the newly formed. Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) of Dushyant Chautala.
Clearly, the BJP’s experiment to break the caste barrier did not help the party electorally.
Furthermore, the data shows that the BJP’s performance in state elections suffers a significant drop compared to the Lok Sabha elections.
Back to caste math
It’s no wonder that all of the significant leadership changes in the states after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections have been driven by castes.
In Karnataka, when the BJP replaced BS Yediyurappa, the new CM was from his Lingayat community, which has traditionally joined the party.
In Gujarat, Vijay rupani as prime minister it was an experiment that scared the BJP in the 2017 assembly elections.
The BJP managed to win 99 seats while an aggressive Congress increased its tally to 77 seats. The BJP’s vote share was only 7% higher than that of Congress.
Clearly, as the party prepares for the 2022 assembly elections in the state, it has decided to play it safe and has opted for a ‘Patel’ as prime minister.
In Jharkhand, the BJP has once again rounded up Babulal Marandi, who was the chief tribal prime minister of the party state. He had left the party after the differences to form his own outfit.
Babulal Marandi is now the leader of the BJP in the legislative assembly.
In Haryana, the BJP has continued with Manohar Lal Khattar for now. But since the farmers’ turmoil will likely affect the prospects for the party’s elections, the BJP may contemplate a leadership change in the state sometime before the next assembly elections.