HAVING once pointedly chosen leaders from non-dominant castes in states as its chief ministers, the BJP appears to have had a change of heart. Ahead of several Assembly elections, it has brought in new CMs. They in recent days hew to the safe, time-tested strategy of caste balancing.
After Uttarakhand and Karnataka, the most recent example is Gujarat. Here the BJP went with a Patidar, bowing to a long-standing demand of the dominant community. It was in place of Vijay Rupani.
According to sources, the changes put on notice leaders like Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana . It includes Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra. Narendra Modi-Amit Shah selected from them outside the Jat and Maratha communities. These communities dominate the two states, respectively, to lead the party.
Party leaders say choice of Bhupendra Patel was “another indication that even the BJP with Modi at the top cannot defy electoral compulsions”.
However, the PM did put his signature style on the change by picking a little-known person. The first-tima MLA over other Patel leaders.
Earlier, in Uttarakhand, the BJP replaced Trivendra Singh Rawat. This was under pressure from both the faction-ridden state unit and from the RSS.
Among those watching closely would be Keshav Prasad Maurya, the Deputy Chief Minister in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The BJP is going out of its way to woo OBCs, the community to which Maurya belongs. He has never hidden his ambitions of becoming CM. Thakur CM Yogi Adityanath’s reign is believed to have antagonised upper-caste Brahmins from the BJP.
image credits: Wikipedia