The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday overhauled its national team of office bearers, making radical changes in how southern states are represented by promoting young leaders such as Tejaswi Surya and dropping veterans like Ram Madhav. With his new team, BJP chief J P Nadda has signalled his party’s search for new growth regions. National general secretaries, known to be the core of the party’s leadership, has seen major changes with Nadda dropping Ram Madhav, Murlidhar Rao and Anil Jain.
According to party sources, Madhav may find a berth in the next Cabinet expansion. And, Muralidhar Rao was dropped because he could not attract the Velama community, which supports the ruling TRS in Telangana. D Purandareshwari, C T Ravi and Dilip Saikia are the new general secretaries, representing Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam, respectively. D K Aruna’s (Telangana) as vice-president is another notable appointment from the South.
Aruna joined BJP from the Congress before the Assembly elections in 2019. Karnataka-based Ravi’s appointment is seen as the BJP’s continued efforts to gain a strong foothold in Vokkaligadominated Old Mysuru region, where the Congress and the JDS have a strong presence. First-time MP Surya is seen as an outspoken young leader who connects with an urban demographic. BJP General Secretary (Organization) B L Santosh’s imprint is said to be clear in both these appointments.
Kerala, which did not have any representation earlier, have got two slots in the new team — AP Abdullakutty as vice-president and Tom Vadakkan national spokersperson. Both are from the minority communities. Curiously, both are recent defectors from the Congress. Sources said the central leadership has sent out a clear message to the faction-ridden Kerala BJP. Odisha has got two national spokespersons with Aparajita Sarangi given the task along with seasoned Sambit Patra.
Team Nadda has strong thrust on Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karntaka, Kerala and Telangana, but Tamil Nadu — which goes to polls next year — is surprisingly left in the cold. While party sources in Tamil Nadu expressed shock at the decision, as it comes barely a month after Nadda praised the state unit’s work, state general secretary Professor R Srinivasan sought to downplay the snub. “The leadership might have thought the work of all leaders in the State is needed for the forthcoming Assembly elections. Maybe in the coming months, the list of office bearers will be revised,” he said. Meanwhile, the team looking after organizational matters has been left untouched, with B L Santosh, V Satish, Saudan Singh and Shivprakash continuing in their respective positions.