Almost a year ago, in February last year, TFI did an analysis on the CMs from BJP, who are suffering from ‘Raghubar Das syndrome’ – the leaders who do not popularise their work among citizens of the state and are seen as arrogant by the people. TFI analysed that these leaders could lose power just like the erstwhile Jharkhand CM, who could not save even his own seat. Trivendra Singh Rawat, who recently lost the CM chair, was on the list. Yet the list still has a few other names like Jai Ram Thakur of Himachal Pradesh, Vijay Rupani of Gujarat, Sarbananda Sonowal of Assam, and Manohar Lal Khattar of Haryana.
Out of these, Trivendra Singh Rawat is already out, and few others are hanging with a thin thread because BJP has learnt a hard lesson from its decision to appoint Raghubar Das as the Jharkhand CM and will not repeat the same, as evident from the case of Rawat.
Even Sarbananda Sonowal, the CM of Assam, is not visible in media despite the fact that the state has been in the headlines since BJP came to power. The state has been in news for various reasons – positive and negative, but Sonowal has been out of the news.
However, Himanta Biswa Sarma, formerly a Congress leader, who controls most senior ministries compensates for the ‘Raghubar Das syndrome’ of Sonowal. As Sarma is the ‘de facto CM’ and in all probability, a CM candidate for the 2021 Assam election, BJP is safe in the state despite having a CM who is suffering from the Das syndrome. The party has already made Sarma the face of the 2021 assembly election because it has learned a lesson from the Jharkhand election and does not wish to lose other states in a similar fashion.
In Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur is also suffering from ‘Raghubar Das syndrome’. A few months ago, Himachal Pradesh became the first state with 100 per cent LPG coverage, but the story was hardly mentioned by the media houses. Being a small state, it does not matter much to national media, but still, the CM can popularise the positive developments in the state through aggressive PR. If Thakur does not learn a lesson from the dismissal of Rawat, he shall meet the same fate very soon. The geography and demography of both states are very same and they usually go through a similar political trajectory, therefore, Thakur’s claim over the chair is in imminent danger.
In Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar too does not popularise his work. However, he gets the benefit of Haryana’s proximity to Delhi, which is the centre of the media. Therefore, the BJP gets enough coverage and headlines, although the CM himself is suffering from the ‘Raghubar Das syndrome’ and does not engage in popularising his work so much and his popularity is dipping.
In fact, out of pressure from Dushyant Chautala, his government is taking steps like 75 per cent reservation to locals in private and public jobs, which brings a lot of negative media coverage to the government. Khattar’s government was saved through political manoeuvring from Amit Shah who brought Chautala into the fore.
Even in the second term, Khattar has not been able to run the state efficiently and the farmers’ protests even took Haryana by force although the protestors were from Punjab. Therefore, Khattar must popularise the transparency he has brought in the functioning of the government and build a support base of his own, otherwise, he might lose the CM chair before the next assembly election.
The high command of BJP has set an example by removing Rawat from the CM chair, and this is a warning to leaders like Jai Ram Thakur, Sarbananda Sonowal, and Manohar Lal Khattar to get rid of ‘Raghubar Das syndrome’ or they will be the next.