Apart from being the incumbent and not the insurgent, current assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are unusual for BJP in another way. After five years of highlighting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in every election, they mark a return to the old collegial style of functioning and campaigning for BJP. In these states the respective chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh, and Vasundhara Raje enjoy a high degree of visibility and recall value with the electorate. They are also the only incumbent BJP CMs from the pre-2014 era, before the rise of Modi and Amit Shah and their duopoly over the party.
Most of the first-term BJP CMs since 2014 have struggled to find their footing and cannot be entrusted with helming the BJP defence of their states without Modi himself leading the charge. In contrast, Chouhan, Raje and Raman Singh come with a proven track record of winning elections. As a consequence, Modi can take it easier as the burden of anti-incumbency lies on their shoulders. This is unlike Gujarat where the PM had to step in and leverage his standing among voters to compensate for weak leadership in Gandhinagar after the Modi-Shah duo moved to Delhi.
The centralisation of power in the party under Modi marks a shift from the collegial manner in which BJP leaders like AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, MM Joshi, BS Shekhawat, Kalyan Singh, Jaswant Singh, or the next generation comprising Modi himself, Pramod Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Gopinath Munde and Venkaiah Naidu once functioned. Perhaps a parallel is the manner in which President Xi Jinping has centralised power within the Chinese Communist Party, moving away from the party’s earlier practice of collegial leadership. Current assembly polls, however, will prove a test of the old guard rather than leaders anointed by Modi.
Stagnating farm incomes will contribute to anti-incumbency as all three states are predominantly rural. Despite Chouhan and Singh’s three successive terms, Congress remains unsure how to exploit anti-incumbency. This is a tribute to the surefootedness and confidence with which they have governed. However, as happened recently with four-term Manik Sarkar and three-term Tarun Gogoi, their personal popularity could far surpass that of their parties. Another victory will give these CMs more clout in BJP; losses would definitively end BJP’s collegial ways at least for some time to come.
Incumbent: necessary for someone as a duty or responsibility.
Example: It is incumbent on all decent people to concentrate on destroying this evil
Synonyms: necessary for one to, essential that, required that, imperative that, compulsory
Insurgent: a rebel or revolutionary.
Example: An attack by armed insurgents
Synonyms: rebel, revolutionary, revolutionist, mutineer, insurrectionist, agitator
Visibility: the state of being able to see or be seen.
Example: A reduction in police presence and visibility on the streets
Duopoly: a situation in which two suppliers dominate the market for a commodity or service.
Example: Now, most markets are cozy duopolies , at best, where consumers can get broadband only from a phone or cable company
Entrust: assign the responsibility for doing something to (someone).
Example: I’ve been entrusted with the task of getting him safely back
Synonyms: charge, invest, endow, burden, encumber, saddle; assign to, confer on
Leverage: the exertion of force by means of a lever or an object used in the manner of a lever.
Example: My spade hit something solid that wouldn’t respond to leverage
Synonyms: grip, purchase, hold, support, anchorage, force, strength
Compensate: give someone something, typically money, in recognition of loss, suffering, or injury incurred; recompense.
Example: Payments were made to farmers to compensate them for cuts in subsidies
Synonyms: recompense, repay, pay back, reimburse, remunerate, recoup
Perhaps: used to express uncertainty or possibility.
Example: Perhaps I should have been frank with him
Synonyms: maybe, for all one knows, it could be, possibly
Anoint: smear or rub with oil, typically as part of a religious ceremony.
Example: High priests were anointed with oil
Synonyms: consecrate, bless, ordain, hallow
Predominant: present as the strongest or main element.
Example: Its predominant color was white
Synonyms: main, chief, principal,primary, prime, central, leading, foremost
Surpass: be greater than.
Example: Prewar levels of production were surpassed in 1929
Synonyms: excel, exceed, transcend, outdo, outshine, outstrip, outclass, overshadow