Until a few years ago, Chhattisgarh was among the states where the BJP had the strongest hold. A formidable chief minister headed the state with an absolute majority for three full terms (2003-18), with no challenge or threat to his authority. Raman Singh had the total support of the central leadership and some of his governance practices even found praise among activists and civil society leaders. Still, Singh was side-lined after the party’s defeat in the 2018 assembly elections. Such is the crisis of second-rung leadership in the state today that with elections just a year away, the party is frantically looking for potential poll candidates, let alone a CM face.
Consider Gujarat, the party’s strongest fort, a state it has been ruling since 1995. After its chief minister, firmly in the saddle during 2001-14, moved to the Centre as the PM, the state has seen three CMs in a short duration. Perhaps nothing exemplifies the state of the second-rung leadership in the party than this. For a long time, a duo reigned over the party marked by a staggering number of secondary leaders, before it was replaced by another pair. Observers once used to ask: after Atal-Advani, who? Now they ask: after Modi-Shah, who?