NEW DELHI: Nearly two months after Amit Shah was elected for a fresh term as BJP chief, he appointed five new state party presidents, ending a long period of uncertainty among cadre. Lingayat strongman and former Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa returned as state president, while for electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh, OBC Lok sabha MP with the RSS and VHP background, Keshav Prasad Maurya, has been named as chief.
K Laxman, Musheerabad MLA, and prominent Kappu leader has been made Telangana president after the incumbent Krisgna Reddy completed two terms.
The list revealed that caste factor, the personal performance of these leaders at the hustings seems worked in their favour as they were picked up for crucial assignments.
Among other states, BJP named Union Minister Vijay Sampla, a Dalit leader, as president of Punjab state unit. Punjab has the highest percentage of dalits in the country at over 35 percent. With elections due in 2017, BJP picked up Sampla energise the state unit which is facing the onslaught from AAP and the Congress.
Former MP and BJP general secretary Tapir Gao has been made chief of the BJP’s Arunachal Pradesh unit. He belongs to the scheduled tribe community.
In terms of electoral considerations, Uttar Pradesh and Karnakata, have deep significance for the BJP. Elections in Uttar Pradesh are due in February 2017, Amit Shah’s managerial skills will tested in the elections.
By making Maurya as the state president, the party had catered to the state’s huge chunk of OBC community. As Maurya as VHP background and participated in the Ram Temple movement, his reputation will come handy in raking up the Hindutva agenda. Interestingly, he represents Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency, once associated with Jawaharlal Nehru. The delay in announcing state president was costing the party dear, BJP sources had said.
"He comes from a backward community and a very poor family. He sold newspapers and tea for a living," BJP General Secretary Arun Singh said at a press conference. He said Maurya was a "full timer", a term for those associated with RSS, for over 14 years.
Karnataka will go to polls in 2018. By naming Yeddyurappa as state president, the BJP has sent a message that he may be in running for the top post in the state when elections are held. However, his naming would attract certain barbs from the Congress as they would rake alleged charges of corruption against him.
Reacting to his appointment, Yeddyurappa said his priority would be to bring back BJP to power as people are "fed up" with the "corrupt" Congress government.
Maurya, Yeddyurappa, and Sampla are currently LoK Sabha MPs. While, Tapir is a former MP, and Laxman a sitting MLA, thus reflecting BJP has chosen leaders who have proven track record in the electoral battles.
The BJP is yet to announce chiefs for other states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Delhi.
This round of rejig in the organisation is likely to be reflected in the union cabinet. Sampla who is MoS will have to vacate his post once cabinet expansion takes place in May. Yeddyurappa who is BJP Vice president will have to pave way to new appoints in the party.