Musical chair of chief ministers

There is no national political party other than the BJP to provide three chief ministers in a state during a single term!  The party has achieved this distinction in five states in the country.  It has produced three CMs twice in MP. The CMs in UP, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Karnataka were changed on this pattern once.  The story is also interesting as the party could not return to  power second time in Delhi after 1993 elections, and in UP, after it secured majority in 1997. In fact, it lost sheen after installing three CMs in these two states in a single term of the Assembly.

Delhi got its new administrative set up in 1993, with an elected Assembly under a new nomenclature for the city government – the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi. It became the second UT to have an elected Legislative Assembly with a council of ministers to advise the Lt. Governor. The first such UT was Pudducherry.  The first Assembly elections under the new set up were held in 1993. The BJP came to power with thumping majority, as the then popular leader ML Khurana became the CM in December 1993 and held the charge till the last quarter of 1996.  However, Khurana had to resign from the post as his name became public in Hawala case.  He had to quit in a huff while following an example set up by a senior leader of the party – L K Advani, who resigned from Lok Sabha citing moral grounds after being named in Hawala case.  Khurana was keen to install a puppet CM from his community so that he could run the government remotely, but BJP decided to go with a leader having wide support base in the countryside.  

Sahib Singh Verma, the then education minister, was elevated to become the CM. Khurana, after being exonerated, made a strong bid to regain the post.  The factionalism brought the division in the open. The high command after taking stock of the situation assessed that it would be a herculean challenge to return to power in 1998 Assembly elections and decided to replace Sahib Singh with the then Union Minister Sushma Swaraj. This was resisted by Verma, although he resigned upon intervention of the central leaders. Sushma could function as the chief minister from 13 October to 3 December 1998 as she could not bring the desired results. The three CMs fiasco debarred BJP from securing majority in the next two elections, those in 2003 and 2008.  The present CM has completed more than 14 years and is still strong enough to defeat BJP in the 2013 assembly elections.

UP is the second state where the BJP installed three chief ministers in a single term and is still waiting to capture power after 1998! The party had to change the CM twice due to the dirty political games being played by the prominent leaders. Kalyan Singh remained in power from 21 September to 21 November 1999, while the old guard and a former deputy CM Ram Prakash Gupta held the post from 21 November to 28 October 2000. Finally, Raj Nath Singh held the seat from 28 October 2000 to 8 February 2002. The frequent musical chair CMs were not liked by people.  Now, it seems silly to talk about getting majority when the party has been struggling to secure the third position in the state.

The story of Uttarakhand is also similar.  The party made two changes after BC Khanduri became CM on 8 March 2007 to relinquish the post after 839 days on 23 June 2009. The poet RP Nishank could hold the post for 808 days from 24 June 2009 to 10 September 2011. The fear of ensuing defeat in the next Assembly elections forced the BJP to change the state leader. BC Khanduri again became CM on 11 September to hold the charge for 185 days, only to resign after his party could not regain a majority in 2012 elections.

The BJP installed three CMs twice in single terms in MP. During 26 July 1977 to 17 February 1980, KC Joshi held office for 206 days, VK Sakhlecha for 732 and S L Patva for 29 days. Later on, in 2003 Assembly elections BJP secured three-fourth historic majorities under the leadership of Uma Bharti who became CM on 8 November 2003 to demit office on 23 August 2004 in the wake of arrest warrant against her in the Hubli riot case. Her successor Babulal Gaur could hold the office for 464 days till 29 November 2011, when Shivraj Singh was installed as CM.  

The last in this series is Karnataka which has seen three BJP CMs from 2008 to 2013.  Even BJP had never thought of losing its first southern stronghold in the wind of corruption.  The office of Lokayukta and the Courts changed the course of the politics in the state and forced to replace CM Yeddyurappa with Sadanand Gowda and Jagdeesh Shettar respectively. One can read the writing on the wall that it would be extremely difficult for BJP to regain power in the state as it failed in getting majority in Delhi and UP after installing there CMs in a single term.

Satpal is a communication consultant

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