While the Karnataka unit of BJP has now ruled out plans for leadership change in the state, the pattern reflects the BJP setting up the stage for Gen-Y to take leadership in many states since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.
The BJP has had young new leaders as chief ministers in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and changed leaderships in states including Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan since 2014.
Biplab Kumar Deb, at the age of 47, became the youngest BJP CM in Tripura in 2018 while 55-year-old Sarbananda Sonowal scripted the party’s victory in Assam in 2016. In Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis was made a chief minister in 2014, ignoring many seniors.
In Karnataka, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, who brought the BJP to power in the state way back in 2008, is still the party’s tallest leader. The BJP may find it tough to find a formidable replacement or to ignore his popularity among the dominant Lingayats.
However, given the trend of BJP politics since 2014, a change of guard in Karnataka seems just a matter of time.
The BJP has nurtured the third generation of leaders in many states recently, some of them with RSS affiliation while taking caste and community affiliations in mind.
Yogi Adityanath (45 then), an aggressive Hindutva face, was the surprise choice for the chief minister in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. Before his name was announced, the guessing game was going on around the names of veterans Rajnath Singh, Uma Bharti and Manoj Sinha.
In Bihar, sidelining former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumari Modi and former BJP Minister Nandkishore Yadav, the two leaders who represented the BJP for the last two decades, the party named two relatively politically lightweight leaders as deputy chief ministers.
After the 2017 Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP named Jairam Thakur as chief minister, ignoring veteran Prem Kumar Dhumal from the same community, who was declared the CM candidate before the polls.
In Uttarakhand, the BJP chose 53-year-old Trivendra Singh Rawat, a long-term RSS activist but a relatively unknown face then to lead the government, ignoring the claims of three former chief ministers, veteran B C Khanduri (83), Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank.
In Gujarat, Anandiben Patel was made the chief minister but when it appeared that the party was tottering, immediately after the 2017 state polls, she was asked to take a backseat. The BJP chose a low-profile Vijay Rupani (then 61), who was the choice of Amit Shah.
Post the 2018 Assembly poll defeat, the BJP is up to create a new leadership in Rajasthan. Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s detractors have been promoted. In Chhattisgarh, three-term CM Raman Singh is on the margins after the poll loss, while the party is building a new leadership.