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Exemplar Karnataka

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The 2014 model seems to be fully in place. Many would see Yediyurappa exit as another symbol of the growing ‘High Command’ system in the BJP but political commentators call the exit as a victory of political values. Mind it, the one who has sacrificed the top post is the one who has built the organization and took it to prominence in Karnataka.

There is not much struggle in the change of guard in Karnataka this time but the Yediyurappa episode has disclosed an obvious fact of Indian politics that power is addictive. Those who reach the top show no desire for decentralisation and those who are below want more and more power to be shared with them. Indian political leaders are quite slow to learn as to when to pass on the baton and make a respectful exit.

The 79 year old BJP stalwart has resigned from the office of Chief Minister after displaying his Lingayat strength. The exit re-establishes the tenet of BJP values that those above 75 years of age should leave the public office in favour of the younger generation. The 2014 model seems to be fully in place. Many would see Yediyurappa exit as another symbol of the growing ‘High Command’ system in the BJP but political commentators call the exit as a victory of political values. Mind it, the one who has sacrificed the top post is the one who has built the organization and took it to prominence in Karnataka.   

The saffron party is getting competition from the Congress in its own game. INC is currently doing a ‘BJP-fication’ of the party by bringing in the young leadership in most of the states. Hardik Patel is given a big role in Gujarat, Ajay Kumar Lallu is chief in UP, Siddhu is made Punjab chief defying Captain Amarinder and so on. BJP would not wish to lose on this front. Congress is also on aggressive young talent hunting even if the talent is available ideologically opposite camp. It has inducted an RSS product– Anumula Revanth Reddy – into the party and guess what; Reddy is appointed as the president of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee.

The ‘youngistan’ movement has made the most in the Union Cabinet. In the recent reshuffle 12 cabinet ministers including Javdekar, Prasad, Gehlot and Sarangi are shown the door. Then 36 new faces are inducted that would comprise mostly young– Sonawal, Scindhia, Vaishnav and Meenakshi Lekhi.

The Karnataka episode also shows the maturity of both the national and state leadership. Yediyurappa is leaving peacefully, placing his own man – another Lingayat – as CM. Grudges have not appeared this time; hence, no future factionalism. This means that BJP will retain its only but strong fort in the south. Though the party has gained power, in partnership, in the tiny Tamil land of Puducherry, the other four states remain a distant dream.

At the outset, it looks like a perfect ‘Kamraj Plan.’ The peaceful transition has helped the saffron party to realize its twin objectives. First, its public image is enhanced as a party of the young. Second, the outgoing and experienced leaders help raise the level of organization. The Karnataka episode is also a lesson for Congress to learn how to avoid making of Mamatas, Jagans and Himantas which ultimately leads to its own decline in most vicious ways.   

Another key reason for the appointment of young leaders is the ‘talent deficit’ in the government. The socio-economic agenda of the government can be realized only when there is talent available. Modi is just searching for it even if he has to find it in the bureaucrats. S Jaishankar, Ashwani Vaishnav, Hardeep Singh Puri and RK Singh are examples of it. The prime minister has even allotted Ramchandra Prasad Singh, ex-IAS and present Rajya Sabha MP of JD(U), a cabinet berth.



This article appeared in 1st August 2021, Print issue 

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