The parachuting business


A Chief Minister's post, as these incumbents would have realised by now, is not dependent on their abilities to govern or garner the backing of legislators. It entirely depends on the party leadership's primary intent of winning elections and, thereafter, tackling dissent. Many of these Chief Ministers share certain characteristics. Not all of them are leaders in their own right or have a mass base or caste-based support the party cannot ignore. Many are novices where party politics is concerned. Nearly all of them are of seasonal utility for their leadership.Most Chief Ministers in India today are a harried lot. Captain Amarinder Singh, for instance, felt "humiliated" by the way he was told to go. He resigned as the Punjab Chief Minister but is still with the Congress. He is the first Congress Chief Minister in recent years to be sacked in a machination typical of the party. It is déjà vu of the 1980s and 1990s when the Chief Ministers in Congress-ruled States called themselves State guests, certain that the "high command" would any day parachute their replacements.
The only difference today is that the Congress is left with very few Chief Ministers to replace. Three, to be precise. Such is the fear of the parachuting business, even the Chief Ministers with the majority of MLAs supporting them are apprehensive. The Punjab example would surely have stirred some fears in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The BJP is not far behind when it comes to playing the replacement game. Vijay Rupani, Trivendra Singh Rawat, Tirath Singh Rawat and BS Yediyurappa were asked to resign in Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Karnataka. In Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal was asked to shift to Delhi, giving the job to Himanta Biswa Sarma after the Assembly elections.
On the other hand, those who have these abilities make Chief Ministers of a different kind. Two kinds, actually. One, like the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy of Andhra Pradesh, the mass-based leader who was not overawed by the "high command" because he wielded the power to singlehandedly deliver the State to the Congress in two successive elections. He made a satrapy of the party in the State, took care of the party's national coffers and brooked no interference from Delhi. The other kind is the regional satrap, who branched out from a national party only to wipe its presence from a State, introduced a brand of individualised politics and who is her/his own "high command".

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