Although BJP President J.P. Nadda had taken his own time to reconstitute his team, he finally announced on Saturday some very important changes. Some prominent names were missing while some others had staged a comeback. Overall, the 70-member new team appears to be cogent and talented. Nadda took over as party chief in January this year from Amit Shah who was made home minister some months prior to that. Dropping almost a dozen seniors was a sensational decision.
Of the missing names, there are two Telugus, Ram Madhav and Muralidhara Rao who had been doing important duties for the party. While Ram Madhav, who joined the BJP from the RSS ranks, was managing party affairs in Jammu & Kashmir, besides northeastern States, P. Muralidhara Rao was in-charge of party matters in South India and Rajasthan. Saroj Pande, who was attending to the party affairs in Maharashtra and Anil Jain, in-charge of party in Haryana, have also been dropped. Some of these party leaders may find place in the Cabinet which is likely to be reshuffled soon.
Surya made Yuva Morcha chief
An eloquent speaker and first-time MP from Bengaluru South, Tejasvi Surya, has been nominated as chief of the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha. He has replaced Poonam Mahajan. Those general secretaries who were retained are Bhupendra Yadav, who is in charge of the poll-bound Bihar and Kailash Vijayavargia, in -charge of West Bengal which is slated to go to polls next year. Arun Singh, in-charge of Odisha has also been retained. The post of national treasurer which has been lying vacant since Piyush Goyal joined the Cabinet in 2014 was filled by Rajesh Aggarwal, a former minister from Uttar Pradesh.
D. Purandeswari, former UPA minister, C.T. Ravi, Tarun Chugh Dilip Saikia, MP from Mangalkoi in Assam, Rajya Sabha MP Dushuyant Gautam have been appointed new general secretaries. The new vice-presidents include former Union minister Radhamohan Singh, former Jarkhand chief minister Raghubar Das, former AP minister D.K. Aruna, Mukul Roy, Rekha Varma, Bharti Shiyal and former MP, A.P. Abdullahkutty, from Kerala.
Balancing act in AP
In place of two Telugu general secretaries, Ram Madhav and Muralidhara Rao, one Telugu person, Daggubati Purandeswari, was appointed as a general secretary. Appointment of Dr. K. Lakshman, outgoing president of the party’s Telangana unit, as OBC Morcha chief is significant in Telangana context. Another Telangana leader D. K. Aruna has been appointed party’s national vice-president. Aruna who joined the BJP from the Congress before the 2019 general elections, was expected to be appointed Telangana BJP president. But Bandi Sanjay, MP from Karimnagar, was nominated instead. There was feeling of despondency among the leaders from Reddy community who had joined the BJP from the Congress and the TDP. They were reportedly entertaining the idea of trooping back to the Congress. In order to prevent such an eventuality, the BJP leadership has decided to appoint Aruna in a top position. She has the guts to fight Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao. Telangana has been given its due with the elevation of Lakshman and Aruna. A balance has been struck among the communities.
In Andhra Pradesh, Purnadeswari’s comeback is considered critical to the perceived ambition of the BJP to replace the TDP as the principal opposition party in the State. The TDP, dominated by the Kamma community leaders, has been taking up religious issues since the chief minister, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, is a Christian. But, unlike in the north, the people in South India, particularly in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, are not inclined to get emotional on religious issues raised with an eye on political mileage. The BJP is understood to have its own plans to encourage defections from the TDP. For this to happen, the appointment of Purnadeswari, the second daughter of NTR, the founder of the TDP, is very important. If the party can project her as a leader of consequence, there would be balance between Kamma and Kapu communities with the State party president Somu Veerraju and friendly party president Pawan Kalyan belonging to the Kapu community. Satya, a BC from Kadapa district, would continue to be national secretary in-charge of party’s central office. But the former president of the State unit Kanna Lakshminarayana was not given any position at the national level. Dropping GVL Narasimha Rao, a Rajya Sabha MP, from the list of national spokespersons was something unexpected.
Mukul Roy to lead party in Bengal
West Bengal and Tamil Nadu which are bound to go to polls in 2021 have got different treatment. While no leader from Tamil Nadu was given a position, a lot of clarity was lent to West Bengal leaders by making it clear that all the shots would henceforth be called by Mukul Roy who was appointed national vice-president of the party. Former West Bengal BJP chief Rahul Sinha was dropped from the list of national secretaries. In his place, Anupam Hazare, a former Trinamool Congress MP and a close follower of Mukul Roy was elevated. The northeastern States have also been given good representation. Chuba Ao from Nagaland was made national vice-president while an MLA from Nagaland, Mmhonlumo Kikon, has been made national spokesperson. The BJP continues to give importance to the northeast. In a faction-ridden Maharashtra unit, Nadda did a balancing act by making former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis a co-in-charge for Bihar during the elections and his adversaries, Pankaj Munde and Vinod Tawde, a former State minister, have been appointed national secretaries. Amit Malviya and Anil Baluni will continue in their respective roles as social media and media cell in-charge.