Modi, Sadananda in Team Rajnath

Amit Shah in; Jaswant, Yashwant out

Modi, Sadananda in Team Rajnath

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday inducted Narendra Modi into the central parliamentary board, the party’s highest decision-making body.

It indicates that the Gujarat chief minister is set to play a big role in party affairs in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections.

Modi will fill the vacancy created by the death of BJP ideologue Bal Apte in July last year. The Gujarat chief minister was also made a member of the central election committee that will set the BJP’s strategy for the upcoming state assembly elections.

With an eye on the Karnataka Assembly elections, former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda was appointed vice-president, while Govind Karjol and Prabhakar Kore were inducted into the 80-member national executive committee.

Gowda was a permanent invitee to the national executive during his tenure as the chief minister. Gowda is an arch rival of B S Yeddyurappa, who went on to float the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) in November last year following differences with party leaders. 

Modi’s induction into the parliamentary board was learnt to be orchestrated by party president Rajnath Singh. Interestingly, Singh played a key role in removing Modi from the board about six years ago.

BJP veteran L K Advani wanted Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the party’s highest decision-making body. Chouhan eventually made it to the list of permanent invitee chief ministers in the national executive. Modi was the only BJP leader inducted into the board headed by Rajnath Singh. A B Vajpayee, Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Ram Lal were the other members.

Singh’s new team includes 12 vice-presidents, 10 general secretaries, 15 secretaries and seven spokespersons. A five-member central disciplinary committee was also constituted. Modi’s growing influence within the party was apparent as Singh’s new team featured former Gujarat home minister Amit Shah, who is facing murder charges in cases of fake encounters. Shah was made the party’s general secretary. Rajya Sabha member Smriti Irani, considered to be close to Modi, was made vice-president.

The BJP also brought its Hindutva face Uma Bharti back. She was appointed vice-president. Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi was made general secretary since several leaders considered him fit to counter Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Ravi Shankar Prasad was stripped of his posts of the party’s general secretary and chief spokesperson. He will  continue as the party’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy was elevated to the post of general secretary. The BJP president’s political adviser Sudanshu Trivedi was designated spokesperson. Poonam Mahajan, daughter of the late Pramod Mahajan, was made secretary.

Veteran BJP leaders Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha did not figure in Singh’s core team, but were part of the party’s national executive committee. “In a party like the BJP, it is more important to be a party worker than hold a post. I am happy being a party worker and also an MP. I have a lot of responsibility towards my party and constituency,” Sinha said.

The Congress refused to make any specific comment on the reshuffle, but said the Karnataka Assembly elections in May would be the “first test” for the party’s new team. “This is the BJP’s internal matter and I won’t comment on it,” said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi.

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