Autocratic or consensus seeking? A delegator or a hands-on leader? Work styles of chief ministers come under scrutiny not just to review their performance before election time, but also because administration styles play a role in this age of coalition politics.
Gujarat - Narendra
Taskmaster CM? Considered a tough taskmaster, Narendra Modi personally monitors key projects, welfare schemes and important issues and receives updates from bureaucrats and officials.
Team player: Though Modi is a shrewd politician, lately his dependence on a few bureaucrats and others close to him has increased.
A coterie wields considerable control over him, regarding his political and administrative decisions. With his increased involvement in national politics, he has been focussing less on the state administration.
Populist vs Rationalist: Modi is a mix of both. His schemes and government programmes have elements of populism and also rational thinking.
Line of command: Modi has failed to nurture a second line of leadership and therefore a few ministers are competing to succeed him in case he moves to Delhi after the parliamentary polls. Among his most trusted and likely successors is Amit Shah, a controversial figure, allegedly involved in fake encounters and illegal surveillance of a woman using the state machinery.
In the circle of trust: Ministers in the Modi administration have largely ceremonial roles, as key decisions are taken by selected bureaucrats who enjoy unbridled access to the chief minister. Modi assigns most of the work, such as organising Vibrant Gujarat Investment Summits, to the bureaucrats.
— Mahesh Langa
Uttar Pradesh - Akhilesh Yadav, SP
Taskmaster CM? Yadav has not been able to create an image of a tough taskmaster. A big chunk of funds allotted for state use has remained unused.
Team player: He is often seen surrounded by his coterie of young leaders, but the Samajwadi Party has too many power centres and he does not enjoy a free hand in governance.
Populist vs Rationalist: The chief minister is prone to populism. A large chunk of funds have been used to implement measures such as distribution of laptops and unemployment allowances.
Line of command: Yadav represents the next generation in the party, while the second line of command includes senior ministers such as Mohammad Azam Khan and Shivpal Singh Yadav, who have also been strong contenders for the CM’s post.
In the circle of trust: Yadav relies on a set of bureaucrats, including chief secretary Javed Usmani. He also relies on some of his party colleagues, but has not been able to develop a team of his own in the state bureaucracy.
— Umesh Raghuvanshi
Madhya Pradesh - Shivraj Singh Chouhan, BJP
Taskmaster CM? Shivraj Singh Chouhan devotes about 18 hours daily to work requirements. He keeps the bureaucrats on their toes and extensively tours the state.
Team player: Chouhan’s decisions are mainly taken after consulting senior RSS leaders and party members in Delhi.
Populist vs Rationalist: Several welfare schemes and panchayats of different sections of society speak of his populist measures. There is less focus on building infrastructure and eradicating corruption.
Line of command: There is no second line of command.
In the Circle of trust: Ministers often grumble, though in private, that Chouhan relies more on a handful bureaucrats than them in running the government.
— Ranjan Kumar Srivastava
Odisha - Naveen Patnaik, BJD
Taskmaster CM? Naveen Patnaik is not a hard taskmaster. He regularly comes to office, holds review meetings with bureaucrats, but rarely speaks in the meetings. He hardly ever checks to see whether his orders have been implemented. It is alleged that the departments under him, such as home, general administration and water resources, are among the most inefficient.
Team player: He does not have a fixed coterie. It has been seen that some people who were close to him at some point of time, later found themselves out of favour.
Populist vs Rationalist: During the past one year his government has announced a slew of sops, in the garb of welfare measures, with an eye on the elections next year. A joke doing the round of political circles is that the BJD government has a scheme from birth to death as the government has announced financial assistance for expectant mothers as well as cremation of the dead in households.
Line of command: There is no second line of command in the party or the government. Many leaders who were influential during his early years, now find themselves in political oblivion. Critics allege he is ruthless in decimating any leader who gains prominence.
In the Circle of trust: He completely depends on bureaucrats to run the state machinery. The bureaucrats are more powerful than his ministerial colleagues. Ministers and MLAs know pretty well that their future depends on the bureaucrats because the latter’s feedback will assure them their assembly seats in the next elections.
— Priya Ranjan Sahu
West Bengal - Mamata Banerjee, TMC
Taskmaster CM? Mamata Banerjee is a tough taskmaster. Soon after assuming office, she conducted surprise checks at various government-run hospitals. She also did a round of markets in her efforts to control price hike. She holds periodic meetings to evaluate departmental work and is often seen publicly rebuking ministers or relieving them of their duties if unsatisfied with their performances.
Team player: Banerjee lends an ear to a varied section of the population, in addition to leaders and officials who are close to her. But the final decision is hers and these have sometimes backfired.
Populist vs Rationalist: Mamata Banerjee is a people’s chief minister. From doling out sops to minority communities to giving grants to neighbourhood clubs, she has taken measures which were popular but sometimes irrational.
Line of command: Mamata Banerjee has the last word both in the party and the government. Though there is a second line of command, which includes leaders like Mukul Roy, Banerjee has the supreme power. All major political and government decisions are taken by her.
In the Circle of trust: The chief minister relies more on her cabinet colleagues and party. A few bureaucrats who are close to her play a key role, but the chief minister gives priority to party and key cabinet colleagues. However, one must remember that she is the one who controls and takes decision on almost everything.
— Ravik Bhattacharya
Maharashtra -Prithviraj Chavan, Congress
Taskmaster CM? Chavan works 10-11 hours a day on a routine basis and often holds meetings late into the night. He is known for handling administration in a no-nonsense manner. He handled this year’s drought-situation in Maharashtra efficiently. However, often he is accused of being over-cautious. This affects the speed of decision-making.
Team player: Chavan prefers to work alone, not in a team. He has a group of advisors, but they are discouraged from lingering around in his office. He has been careful not to allow any coterie to take over control of the government. He has handpicked key officers including chief secretary J K Banthia and CMO secretary Ashish Kumar Singh whom he trusts in decision-making.
Populist vs Rationalist: Contrary to his predecessors, Chavan has mostly avoided populist decisions, despite pressure from within his party as well as alliance partner, NCP. During the Campa Cola Compound illegal flats controversy, Chavan stuck to his stand that the government won’t issue an ordinance, even though he agreed to party colleagues’ demand for seeking legal opinion on the matter. However, in the run-up to the elections, he would have to resort to some populist decisions.
Line of command: He is regarded as a lone ranger. He has not developed a second line of command in the government.
In the Circle of trust: Chavan is often accused of listening more to the bureaucrats than his cabinet colleagues. While there is no question of him relying on NCP ministers, even Congress ministers complain that the Chief Minister does not take their suggestions or complaints seriously.
— Shailesh Laxman Gaikwad
Kerala - Oommen Chandy, Congress
Taskmaster CM? He’s not a tough taskmaster, but he is popular. Unlike his mentor A K Antony, he’s not a prisoner of his image. He trusts people around him. The first CM to webcast his office 24x7, Chandy is mired in a couple of controversies.
Team player: He’s not surrounded by a coterie, but leads a strong faction in the party called ‘A’ (Antony) group. Though Antony had disowned this group, floated during the days of K Karunakaran, Chandy is often accused of reviving it. PCC chief Ramesh Chennithala and he are arrayed against each other in state politics. Rifts between the two have widened in recent days.
Populist vs rationalist: Not a populist, but he does not depend on mere words. His mass contact programme has been a big hit. Often he takes on the spot decisions and has sorted out long-pending issues.
Line of command: There is no second line of leaders in the party. The party knows it well that Chandy is the best bet for them despite the controversies surrounding him.
In the circle of trust: A seasoned administrator, Chandy does not rely much on bureaucrats. A popular leader, he often gauges people’s pulse and acts accordingly. Some of his cabinet colleagues are very close to him. There is not much co-ordination between the party and government in the state.
— Ramesh Babu
Tamil Nadu - J Jayalalithaa , AIADMK
Taskmaster CM? She is a very tough task master and could easily be one of the toughest of all chief ministers in India. Ministers don’t know where they stand with her and bureaucrats are petrified of her. She brooks no nonsense either from officials or ministers.
Team player: Till recently, Jayalalithaa’s old friend and companion, Sasikala, was said to be part of a small coterie that kept her informed on various issues. But a few months back, she threw Sasikala out of her residence and life, before taking her back in favour. Jayalalithaa makes her own decisions, though she does listen to a small group of her favourite officials.
Populist vs rationalist: Jayalalithaa is prone to populism, even at the cost of rationale and rationality. The issue of Sri Lankan Tamils is a case in point, where she opposed the centre for the populist desire to be seen helping Tamils in Sri Lanka, an emotional issue in Tamil Nadu.
Line of command: No second line of leadership has been nurtured. In AIADMK and her government, she is the supreme leader. Her ministers are never tired of singing her praise, and even prostrating before her, even in public, as a mark of their fearful respect. Amma is AIADMK and AIADMK is Amma.
In the circle of trust: She relies more on bureaucrats and has a small group of two or three favourite officials.
— KV Lakshmana
Mizoram - Thanhawla, Congress
Taskmaster CM? He is considered a tough taskmaster with a certain degree of subtlety and humour.
Team player: Although a “coterie culture” is virtually absent in near-homogenous Mizoram, the Chief Minister is known to have shown more trust in his younger brother (an MLA) and a few ministers related to him.
Populist vs rationalist: He blends populism with rational thinking, the outcome being the pro-poor new land use policy, which he brought in after two failed attempts during earlier tenures.
Line of command: Mizoram has a semblance of a second line of command. However, many in this line are related to the Chief Minister.
In the circle of trust: The dependence on bureaucrats is more than cabinet colleagues and party members, who invariably fall back upon administrative officers to get things done. On social issues, he turns to the church.
— Rahul Karmakar
Chhattisgarh - Raman Singh, BJP
Taskmaster CM? Critics feel Raman Singh is too patient, a trait that delays decision making. The CM largely believes in democratic style of functioning .
Team player: Singh maintains an ‘open door’ policy. It is not just a coterie that decides for him.
Populist vs rationalist: Singh believes in populist measures and seems to have done everything within his means for the sake of ensuring well-being of the people. He is not against subsidies and has undertaken several focussed schemes with targeted subsidies.
Line of command: He has encouraged, nurtured and trained tribal leaders in the state, who were non-entities earlier. He has groomed leadership in his party but at the same time there is strong perception that he has sidelined top party leaders.
In the circle of trust: During his two terms the CM is seen to have believed choosing people suitable for particular activities.
— Ejaz Kaiser
Goa - Manohar Parrikar, BJP
Taskmaster CM? Parrikar is aggressive and blunt in his style of functioning and likes to keep people on their toes. People are wary of Parrikar’s surprise checks.
Team player: Parrikar prefers to work alone and does not have a close coterie of officials. As a CM, he also doesn’t like to move around in a VIP huddle, often preferring a single security officer.
Populist vs rationalist: Parrikar has been called often as the CEO of Goa. One of his first decisions was to slash petrol prices to `11 per litre. Some of his decisions, such as banning booze and plastic on beaches, have been a big hit with locals.
Line of command: He has not nurtured a second line of command in the government. And continues to retain around six portfolios including home, mines, education, finance.
In the circle of trust: He does not rely on anyone other than a few trusted aides. He expects officers to implement his vision. — Ketaki Ghoge
Jammu and Kashmir - Omar Abdullah, NC
Taskmaster CM? Critics often say he has more words than action. His lack of grip on the party is evident by his inability to act against erring ministers.
Team player: Though he came to power with a promise to bring in fresh faces, Abdullah couldn’t make much way with the party’s old guard.
Populist vs Rationalist: His decisions at time seem impulsive, neither driven by populism nor rational thinking. His stand on laws like AFSPA has been weak. He keeps changing his stand. From raising a war cry against Pakistan, to favouring talks with the neighbouring country, his views have not been consistent.
Line of command: Abdullah is too young in state politics to think about a second line as he is yet to consolidate his own position within the party.
In the Circle of trust: Sources in the party reveal that “he listens to all, yet doesn’t listen to anything’’. He might be a patient listener, but acts solo.
— Toufiq Rashid
Rajasthan - Ashok Gehlot, Congress
Taskmaster CM? Ashok Gehlot is perseverant and determined. He works in a systematic manner and pushes through his ideas. In the past one year, especially, he has got the bureaucracy to push through several schemes. He follows a tough schedule and works for 15-16 hours a day.
Team player? Gehlot has a trusted coterie that is close to him . Although he listens to everyone’s opinion, he does have a few trusted officers, whom he consults before making a decision.
Populist vs rationalist: Bureaucrats say Gehlot is prone to populism and that has been one of his weaknesses. Several schemes, such as free medicines, free diagnostic tests, free laptops, free scholarships to students, cash incentives to girl children and pensions to the elderly, were launched with an eye on the elections. For most of its tenure, his government was seen as ineffective. Only in the last year, Gehlot has tried to push through populist schemes to retain popular support.
Line of command: There is no second line of command. It is believed that Gehlot does not want anyone to emerge as a viable alternative to him.
In the circle of trust: Gehlot relies more on the advice of bureaucrats rather than cabinet colleagues. His cabinet has also been rather lacklustre and the performances of his ministers have been below par. Party leaders have often complained that the Chief Minister and bureaucrats do not listen to them.
— Urvashi Rawal
Delhi - Sheila Dikshit, Congress
Taskmaster CM? Sheila Dikshit is known as a tough taskmaster. Ministers and those in the secretariat cannot take her orders lightly. She keeps a tab on progress.
Team player: Dikshit is known to take everyone along. Though she has some close aides, she does not have a coterie. She listens to everyone, gives a patient hearing to secretaries, minsters, legislators and senior officials but has her independent view on everything.
Populist vs Rationalist: Dikshit is prone to populism. There have been instances when she took a decision that later backfired. But she has also proved an intelligent CM and has taken some rational decision for Delhi’s development.
Line of command: There’s no second line of command. She is the party’s face in Delhi.
In the Circle of trust: Dikshit relies more on bureaucrats than her cabinet. Trusted bureaucrats advise her on important matters.
— Atul Mathur
Bihar - Nitish Kumar, JD(U)
Taskmaster CM? Kumar takes up his job seriously. He spends nearly 18 hours per day in disposing official work, attending social or political meetings. He has been holding Janata Durbars since he assumed the office.
Team player: Kumar has a set of advisors including serving bureaucrats, former bureaucrats and diplomats besides some bureaucrats-turned-politicians. He listens to their advice but takes his own decisions.
Populist vs Rationalist: His measures, such as cycle and uniform distribution, have reduced school dropout rate among girls while infant mortality rate has gone down due to the institutional delivery scheme. He is also credited with creating infrastructure and bringing down crime rate.
Line of command: Water resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary is the second in command after deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi was sacked following NDA split.
in the Circle of trust: Kumar is the sole decision-maker, but takes the advice of bureaucrats in departments that have “weak” ministers. Months after the NDA split, Kumar is still holding the charge of all the departments earlier held by BJP leaders.
— Ashok Kumar Mishra
Uttarakhand - Vijay Bahuguna, Congress
Bahuguna is known as a ‘soft’ statesman. Crippled by the in-fighting within the Congress, he has to spend much of his time balancing ministers, legislators and senior Congress leaders. He has projected his son Saket as his second-in-command. Many ministers complain that the state’s bureaucracy doesn’t give any importance to them. It is said that Bahuguna is less political and more bureaucratic in his approach.
— Anupam Trivedi
Jharkhand - Hemant Soren, JMM
It has been a tightrope walk for Soren since he took charge. His government is riding the pillion despite his party being on driver’s seat in the coalition government — running the show on Congress’ diktats. A government that depends on the support of Congress and RJD, has little scope to announce populist schemes. There is no second line of command. Soren seeks suggestion from both JMM and Congress camp.
— Manish Gupta
Andhra Pradesh - N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Congress
Unlike YSR who was adamant on finishing a task on deadlines, Reddy is known to be accommodative. He takes on board all suggestions. However, there are allegations of his brother Santosh’s rising influence. Reddy gets into the pros and cons of the matter before taking a decision. Reddy is said to be very dependent on his peshi — a set of bureaucrats who keep the repercussions in mind while making plans.
— Prasad Nichenametla
Haryana - Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Congress
Hooda is hardly a tough taskmaster. Projects on education and health have been going on at snail’s pace. He has been accused of failing to support the stalwarts, but has worked hard to promote his son Deepender. He listens to high command and to a handful of ministers. There is a saying in the corridors of power: ‘He quickly befriends one when he has to get work done.’
— Rajesh Moudgil
Karnataka - Siddaramaiah, Congress
Siddaramaiah, who traces his roots to the JP Narayan movement, is one of the few good administrators. He has purposefully kept out strong leaders in the party to give the government a ‘corruption-free’ image. A very tough taskmaster, he trusts only his good friends. He never compromises with populist schemes and has shown interest in development and is known to nurture young leaders.
— Naveen Ammembala
Himachal Pradesh - Virbhadra Singh, Congress
Virbhadra Singh is considered a tough taskmaster. He ensures that he reads every file minutely before giving his notes. Singh has a coterie of trusted officers. He is prone to populism. He has not nurtured a second line of command. After becoming Chief Minister, Singh got a party ticket for his wife Pratibha Singh who is now a member of Parliament. Singh relies more on bureaucrats rather than his cabinet colleague.
— Gaurav Bisht
Sikkim - Pawan Chamling, SDF
Chamling is a tough taskmaster who consults both the bureaucrats and party colleagues on crucial issues. Though he often resorts to populist politics, he has also made many rational decisions that added to his popularity. He has not developed a second line of command. He relies more on bureaucrats, however, he is smart enough to maintain a balance so that none of his cabinet colleagues question his authority.
Tripura - Manik Sarkar, CPI(M)
Considered one of the cleanest and ablest chief ministers, Sarkar is a tough taskmaster, evident from the success of major schemes. Populism is not one of his traits. Rational thinking has underscored his performance, whether in checking militancy or in rural issues. The set-up within the party has created space for the second line with more than one contenders. He depends on his cabinet colleagues and party more than on bureaucrats.
Manipur - Okram Ibobi Singh, Congress
He is regarded as a tough taskmaster in a trouble-torn state where certain issues need careful handling. Singh comes across as a liberal leader with an ear for the highlanders, aka tribal people. He swings between populism and rational decision making according to the situation. He is not known to be nurturing a second line of command. Singh is seen as a one-man decision-making government.
Nagaland - Neiphiu Rio, NPF
He is not seen as a tough taskmaster. Coterie culture is almost non-existent in Nagaland. Rio is known to be a listener. He is a rational decision maker. The state with parallel governments run by rebels offers few opportunities for decision-making though. Leaders of Nagaland do not give a thought to second line of command. Bureaucrats have a ceremonial value in Nagaland where rebels call the shots.
Arunachal Pradesh - Nabam Tuki, Congress
He is regarded as a person controlled by a set of advisors and a Congress MP who allegedly orchestrated a coup against his predecessor a couple of years ago. In a state divided politically on tribal lines, depending on a coterie is inevitable. Nurturing a second line of command has never been a trait among leaders in the state and Tuki is no different. With China often breathing fire from across the border, Arunachal is entirely dependent on Delhi.
Assam - Tarun Gogoi, Congress
His tenure through first two terms saw him relying on a coterie of half a dozen young ministers but his third term saw him turn to another set as senior and junior colleagues began questioning his authority. He is seen as an impulsive person, neither populist nor rationalist. He has developed a second line of command. Congress insiders and the Opposition consider him dependent on bureaucrats.
Meghalaya - Mukul M Sangma, Congress
Sangma is considered more of a crisis manager than a tough taskmaster. He is said to have a coterie of bureaucrats and half a dozen ministers allegedly on his good books. But he invariably ends up following his mind. Populism outweighs Sangma’s rational decision-making. He is not known to have a second line of command in a state where instability and quirky ideas such as choosing Chief Minister by lottery have been legendary.
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