As BJP president Rajnath Singh put together a new team to prepare the chief Opposition party for the 2014 general elections, he has taken care to accommodate sectional interests too.
Respecting his predecessor Nitin Gadkari’s wish list, the BJP chief has retained J P Nadda as general secretary. Similarly, when Arun Jaitley pitched for Dharmendra Pradhan, he, too, was retained as general secretary. Former Osmania varsity student leader -- who was brought into public life by the late Dattopant Thengdi -- P Muralidhar Rao, who is close to sections of the RSS, has been elevated as general secretary.
Rao, who had been associated with the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) in the past, was a secretary in the outgoing team.
Incumbent general secretaries Ananth Kumar, Ram Lal, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Tapir Gao have been retained in the new team. And Rajnath has promoted the young Thakur face from Bihar and a spokesperson in the outgoing team,Rajiv Pratap Rudy as general secretary. Durg MP Saroj Pandey has been made the new president of the BJP Mahila Morcha, while Anurag Thakur continues as Yuva Morcha president in the new team.
While Prakash Javadekar, Shahnawaz Hussain and Nirmala Sitharaman will continue as party spokespersons, the new additions to the list are Vijay Sonkar Shashtri, Capt Abhimanyu, Meenakshi Lekhi and Sudhanshu Trivedi.
Trivedi is known as Rajnath’s “political adviser.” Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is the BJP’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, has been dropped as the party’s chief spokesperson. Poonam Mahajan, daughter of the late BJP strongman Pramod Mahajan, has found a place in the new team and has been made a secretary.
The new BJP team, in which women find one-third representation, includes the party’s tribal face Jual Uraon and Luise Marandi from Jharkhand, who have been made vice-president and secretary respectively.
According to a Rajnath aide, the BJP president had managed to strike a fine balance of caste and regional equations in the new team, even while leaving his indelible imprint. Rajnath, on his part, felt that his team was a “neatly balanced one”, and one of the vice presidents Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi added that the new team was “battle ready” to take on the Congress in the forthcoming general polls.
Katiyar on Poll Panel
The BJP has made a handful of interesting changes in its Central Election Committee, in view of the upcoming Assembly elections which will likely be followed by general elections in 2014.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi made a comeback to the panel by virtue of being a Parliamentary Board member. Party president Rajnath Singh has inducted Vinay Katiyar, a Kurmi leader from Uttar Pradesh.
Kalraj Mishra represented Uttar Pradesh in the last Central Election Committee. After Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel exited from the panel, Harshwardhan, another party leader from the Capital, has been inducted.
Among other new entrants to the 19-member panel are party general secretary J P Nadda and Jual Oraon, a tribal leader from Odisha.
Party general secretary and another leader from Odisha, Dharmendra Pradhan, has been dropped from the panel. Narendra Singh Tomar, who was a member of the last committee, is now the president of the BJP’s Madhya Pradesh unit.