Chief Ministers - Who is the Best?

Who is the best chief minister in India?

It’s always interesting to talk about top tens, top fives, the bests and the worsts. It makes the job of evaluation easier. Even in appraisals, our bosses rate us based on comparison only, although they say not to compare when we do that and go back to them for justice (!). It makes the analysis interesting and it would help us also identify what makes someone the best or the worst. It’s like reverse engineering. While you identify the best or worst based on few parameters, you also get an opportunity to better understand the parameters that make them so. It also helps us shut up people who give reasons (actually excuses) for not doing something that someone else is able to do in the same role. For example, if someone says it is not at all possible to be a politician and not corrupt when we criticize a corrupt rogue, with this kind of analysis, we can easily show someone who is able to run an able government without being corrupt.

The moment that question came to my mind, the names that quickly popped up are Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar, Omar Abdullah and Sheila Dixit. And, I should be a mentally retarded fellow to think of anyone from Tamil Nadu in the last forty years. May be, if it’s for the worst, I can proudly nominate them along with Mayawati and many more crooks. After Mr. Kamaraj, the one who was regarded as the best in the country during his time, everyone else that came has been horrible in Tamil Nadu.

When I did a Google search with that question, I saw that almost everyone was saying Narendra Modi. The ones that come next are Nitish Kumar and Sheila Dixit. Omar Abdullah comes to my mind because I have been watching him for a long time with some kind of admiration. Not to forget, the two communist chief ministers Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Achuthanandan are surely on top two if I just look at cleanliness in politics, which is surely a basic requirement to be in public life. But, that is not all. They haven’t done anything great to their states. They haven’t even done what some of their corrupt counterparts have done in other states. It’s not their fault. Until someone proves it wrong, I would say communist governments in democracy have failed. At the same time, there are also talks that the communists are not as clean as they used to be some time back. Even in Kerala it has become very common to see communist ministers demand commissions for everything like their corrupt cousins in the neighboring states do.

Despite being one of the most hated politicos by some segments of the society, if everyone says Narendra Modi is the best chief minister in the country, then there should be something in him. Giving a fair chance to his critics, this is what we would hear against him – “English-speaking – internet-savvy – upper class people are generally fancied by the idea of hardcore Hindutva, so there is nothing to get surprised when they admire someone who is seen as so much anti-Muslim.”. But, as I had written some time back in an exclusive post about Modi, in recent times, there are also stories of how he has started attracting Muslims also in Gujarat, though it would take some time for him to attract the Muslims in other parts of the country. It’s not so easy to forget the lives that were lost in the communal riots, but if we just consider the administration abilities and corruption-free governance that he is giving in a country full of scams and corruption stories, I think, he would surely come in No.1 or 2. Even those who hate him are not able to level any corruption charges against him or blame him for poor governance. When Tamil Nadu could be fooled with freebies like color televisions the same thing could not succeed in Gujarat so easily. Despite giving such promises, Congress was routed in Gujarat because of the single factor called Modi. Because, he had shown to his people what good governance really was. I don’t think there is any threat to his position throughout his lifetime as long as he continues to give this sort of good governance and ensures there is no another Godhra and post-Godhra.

In my opinion, Nitish Kumar scores better than Modi on two counts. What are they? One, Nitish Kumar doesn’t have the communal stain that Modi has. He is more inclusive. He doesn’t have any hatred towards any particular group of people based on their caste, religion or language. The next thing is that the state that Modi took over from his predecessor was already in a good condition scoring high on almost all parameters, whereas when Nitish took over Bihar, it was nothing more than a jungle. There was absolutely no governance. Lawlessness was Omni-present. He had to civilize his people first in the first term and then think of development. Now Bihar is well on its development track. May be, it is still not completely corruption-free like Gujarat, but it is not that easy. If Gujarat came from 60 to 90, Bihar had to come from 0 to 40 or from -90 to 0 first and then from 0 to 40. So that way I think Nitish should be No. 1. But, what I also heard is that, even he is not able to control the corrupt subordinates and clean-up the bureaucracy as fast as he wanted to. If he is not able to show good progress in this term he might be in trouble in the next election.

I haven’t heard much about Sheila Dixit. But, in any survey, she comes in one of the top few positions. When I tried to find out what she has done other than winning three consecutive elections, this is what I got to know. She has been development-oriented all along. She has very clean image though all others that got involved in CWG chaos were corrupt and screwed it up. Her administration is one of the best in the country. I still think she is not great because the area that she manages is very small though it has its own challenges. It’s easier to manage such a big city than a state that has a mix of all sorts of unmanageable geographies, because there is some sort of civic spirit in cities whereas the rural fellows don’t even know what they want from their government. Governance or management of anything is easier when you know the expectations from you and you have enough resources to achieve them. Cities like Delhi have both. But, when you manage states of bigger size with higher complexity, there is neither clear expectation nor are there required resources. There, people just think it is only color televisions that the government has to give them.

Omar Abdullah, I thought, was a potential next generation leader and he could play a great role in shaping up this nation. Unfortunately, he didn’t succeed well in his current role. May be, he is not good to be in state-level politics. It doesn’t suit his personality. He could be more successful in peace than in war. Performance shouldn’t be the only factor to judge one’s abilities at all times. There are other factors that change the course in unexpected ways. I was impressed with the way he presented himself. I thought he was shrewd. But, I also learned that that’s not enough in politics. You also have to be a leader of masses, for which you have to spend a great amount of time being with them, which apparently he didn’t do. May be, I am not sure though, a manipulative guy like Lalu would have done a better job in that position. He should better adapt to the demands of his current role if he wants to play a larger role later. I wouldn’t say he is No. 3 or 4, but he is someone that has the potential to be there.

Being a Bangalorean, I have to say how my chief minister Mr. Yeddy fares, though I don’t have to be compelled to put him on top of the list just by the virtue of being in the state governed by him. He looked promising for some time initially but has gone horrible now. I think, he is not strong enough to remain good against all odds. To put it very mild, I would say, he has got used to the system or he has allowed the system to corrupt him. BJP doesn’t have any charismatic leader to succeed him here. Now, I would say, Karnataka is in a kind of leadership crisis (not worse than Tamil Nadu though). From Congress perspective, S M Krishna should come back to state politics to make it little better if not great. Gowda family… I am so sorry – I don’t even like using some names in conversations.


  1. Good post on CM's of India, not sure what triggered U to write a post on CM's.

    I guess U missed out Shivraj Singh Chauhan of MP, he is doing good as well thought he is yet to capture the imagination of English media.

  2. Thanks Shambanna. It was long pending thing after I wrote about my picks from UPA-2. Yes. Shivraj Singh Chauhan could be added in the list along with Naveen Patnaik as well, I guess.

  3. With this you have proved that you are not a person who writes software but write the right politics with data and facts...interesting and very good info.
    My only suggestion is can u pl write briefly and crisply wherever required.

  4. Thanks for your kind words. This is one feedback I have been getting repeatedly. Should really work hard on it to get it crisper and briefer. Will surely try...

  5. Thanks Bharathi for accepting my suggestion...

  6. Hey Raju, was that you? I didn't know who it was. :)


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