ANTA: BJP’s much-touted masterstroke of appointing Nityanand Rai as its Bihar unit chief with the aim of leading a power-packed charge against the formidable Lalu-Nitish combine has hit hurdles before starting off. Just four months into his new role, Rai, who is an MP and comes from the Yadav caste, is facing protests from the old guard.
Several BJP leaders, especially those from the upper castes, are up in arms against the new state executive committee Rai, 50, has formed. Previously accused of having an “innate anti-upper caste bias,” he faces allegations of sidelining scores of dedicated office-bearers in his new team and having formed it without consulting senior leaders.
Sudhir Sharma, a senior BJP leader who was one of the three leaders dropped from the post of general secretary, has come out in the open against Rai. Sharma has the support of several senior leaders, who may stand against Rai.
The new team formed by Rai dropped all the four general secretaries in the previous committee —Sudhir Sharma, Vinay Singh, Sanjiv Chaurasia and Suryanandan Kushwaha. Only Vinay Singh was retained and elevated as vice-president.
“Never before has there been a state BJP executive team with the predominance of non-serious people as this one. It seems the party posts were simply sold. The selection reeks of total bias and vengeance against the state party unit’s old guard,” said Sharma, determined to keep fighting against Rai.
Except a handful of people, he said, the entire team of the state BJP has been replaced. “It is now filled with Rai’s loyalists. Faces with dubious records have been inducted,” Sharma said.
Of the four new general secretaries, only Rajendra Singh is a known face, even though he has worked mostly in Jharkhand. Few in the party know the antecedents and capabilities of the other three. Seven vice-presidents were removed to accommodate new leaders.
Vinod Narayan Jha, one of the most suave spokespersons of BJP, was removed allegedly because of his proximity with Sushil Modi. Similarly, Rajesh Verma was replaced by Nitin Navin as chief of the state youth wing.
Rai, however, rubbished the charges saying, “It is always difficult to choose a few members from a capable lot. I have done my best, in the best interests of the party.