BJP president Rajnath Singh on Sunday did a fine balancing act in putting together his new team, for the 2014 general elections, even as many identified Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s stamp on the new team.
As expected, Modi has returned to the apex decision-making body — the BJP Parliamentary Board — after six years, as also to the Central Election Committee. Modi is the only State CM in the apex bodies. Contrary to expectations, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has not found place in Team Rajnath.
Apart from Modi himself being elevated, many of his lieutenants have been accommodated in the 76-member team. Modi confidant Amit Shah, accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, has been made party general secretary. Party in-charge of Gujarat in the outgoing team and Modi supporter, Balbir Punj, is now vice president. Another Modi supporter and MP from Gujarat, Smriti Irani too, has been made a vice president. Former Bihar BJP president C P Thakur, who repeated his call to make Modi the party’s PM-candidate on Sunday, is another vice president. Lawyer-activist Meenakshi Lekhi, who has defended Modi on television shows, is spokesperson.
Rajnath’s team has 12 vice-presidents, 10 general secretaries, 15 secretaries and seven spokespersons, besides a 12-member Central Parliamentary Board, a 19-member Central Election Committee and a five-member Central Disciplinary Committee. Among significant elevations is that of Varun Gandhi, who is now party general secretary. A secretary in the outgoing team, BJP expects its own Gandhi to be an answer to Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and SP’s Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh, where a revival of the party’s fortunes is imperative if the party is to seize power at the Centre. Uma Bharti is back in the central BJP as V-P. Prabhat Jha, considered close to RSS’s Suresh Soni, has also been made V-P.
Former Karnataka CM S Gowda is now a vice-president, as also SS Ahluwalia. Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has no place in the team. Najma Heptulla and Shanta Kumar have been dropped.