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Rajnath overlooks Munda

Ranchi, March 31: The BJP today picked a low-profile face from Jharkhand, Louis Marandi, as a national secretary and offered former Rajya Sabha MP S.S. Ahluwalia the post of vice-president, leaving out the likes of Arjun Munda and Yashwant Sinha to mend fences in a squabbling state unit.

The announcements of BJP national president Rajnath Singh’s newly formed teams of the party’s parliamentary board, general secretaries, secretaries, vice-presidents and spokespersons were made in Delhi.

Munda, who had compelled the BJP leadership to appoint his aide Ravindra Rai as state unit president, was known to be keen on a central assignment.

Asked, Munda denied that he ever aspired for or lobbied for a post.

“In fact, when I had resigned as the BJP legislature party leader on March 9, I had categorically told the central leadership that I want to serve the party without holding any post. It would have been good if senior leaders like Sinhaji was in the (Rajnath Singh’s) team, but then, it is balanced,” Munda told The Telegraph.

In the Nitin Gadkari regime, Munda was appointed national general secretary, a post he had resigned in 2010 after becoming chief minister of the BJP-led coalition government in Jharkhand.

By keeping out seniors in Singh’s team, the BJP has sent a veiled message to a faction-ridden Jharkhand unit to focus on the state’s affairs as it cannot afford further mess in the light of the tug of war between factions led by Munda and Sinha over Rai’s appointment.

Sinha too sounded sympathetic and a touch sardonic regarding Munda but refused to answer what went wrong with his claims.

Accha hota agar Munda ji rashtriya mahasachiv hote. Main bhavisya me bhi bina kisi post ke kam karunga (It would have been good if Munda was appointed general secretary. I will continue to serve the party without holding any post).”

Sources in the BJP confided that Sinha was L.K. Advani’s personal choice for the post of national vice-president.

But Munda can afford a smile, as Louis (45) who belongs to Santhal Pargana is known to be his trusted aide. Louis’s appointment is seen as a move to consolidate the party’s electoral base in Santhal Pargana.

But her appointment has surprised partymen, as she is not a crowd-puller. A university teacher posted in Dumka, Louis joined active BJP politics in 2003. Earlier, she was close to former chief minister and then BJP leader Babulal Marandi but sided with Munda after the two leaders drifted apart.

“I doubt if she will prove to be an useful addition in the newly formed team. Except Ahluwalia, other leaders like Sinha who have been quite vocal have not been given any place. But Ahluwalia is a political pigeon who comes and goes. He is not from Jharkhand but had only won Rajya Sabha election here. Probably, owing to factionalism in the state unit, the central leadership avoided major picks from Jharkhand,” a senior party leader said.

Some BJP leaders attributed reasons that might have gone against Sinha.

“The national president may not like Sinha in his team, as it would have offended Gadkari ji (Sinha had sought the former president’s resignation). Sinha had even blamed the leadership ability of Singh after the BJP lost the last general election and had resigned from all party posts. Even during the appointment of Rai he had threatened to resign. Probably, Sinha’s bold speak worked against him,” a party leader said.

It may not be known if Munda and Sinha are unhappy within, but both have publicly undertaken to serve the party without any post.


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