Faster than it takes the Congress Party to decide on hiring an election consultant or shifting the responsibility for data mining from an outsourcing team to an internal team, the Bharatiya Janata party changed its chief minister in Tripura, ahead of state Assembly elections early next year.
Even before anyone in either the state, or the Opposition, had a whiff of what was likely to take place, the BJP summoned Biplab Deb, the first ever chief minister of the saffron party in Tripura, and summarily replaced him with an Upper House parliamentarian, Dr Manik Saha.
With less than a year to go for the next election, it was a bold move, ending the term of Biplab Deb, who was chosen leader of the House and state, after the BJP alliance with Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, a local party, won an unprecedented victory over the five-term reign of the CPI(M)-led Left Front in the northeastern state.
It has now become a standard operating procedure for handling the anti-incumbency at the state-level for the BJP in states across the country. A fresh face takes off the steam of anger against the state government, given how CM-centric states are in India’s federal system.
Earlier, the BJP had brought in change in Assam but for a very different reason — its then incumbent CM, Sarbananda Sonowal, in tandem with his subsequent replacement, Himanta Biswa Sarma, brought the party back to power in the biggest state in the Northeast. The attributed reasons and analysis were most academic, and likely part of a deal stuck internally in the party.
Elsewhere, during the Assembly elections to five states, in Uttarakhand, the dominant national party of the decade changed chief ministers not once but twice within a term, but reading the mood of the electorate correctly, fought what could have been a tough election, smartly, and won an unprecedented second term.
Similarly, in Gujarat, too, after Narendra Modi quit office to take over as Prime Minister, the party had shuffled the people at the helm more than once, and yet, went on to retain power electorally.
In a different set of circumstances, the BJP also changed its CM in Karnataka, where B.S. Yediyurappa was initially sworn in as CM, but the government fell and the Congress took charge. Later, when a change of party at the helm was conducted, it was Basavaraj Bommai who took oath as the leader.
The saffron party remains exceptionally agile and alert to the dynamic and phantasmagorical situations in different parts of the country at ground level; and the alacrity of its decision making would make a corporation envious.
Not every decision anyone takes — individual or a collective — can always be right but there is a correct approach to taking them, and the BJP currently sets the benchmark in it.
In its future battles against regional parties, the BJP could score well on this count, with its ability to sacrifice CMs, a luxury that regional parties, with their top bosses and reigning families, can never consider. The Congress, its national rival, on the other hand, makes a mess of the process of taking decisions, making even Hamlet look clear-eyed.
As long as people respect decisiveness, the BJP will continue to score.