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Emptied, BJP heads for huge overhaul

New Delhi, May 27: The BJP organisation looks headed for a complete overhaul as almost the entire brass, including party president Rajnath Singh, have joined the Narendra Modi government.

The BJP has scrupulously adhered to the “one person, one post” norm in the past. That means office-bearers relinquish party posts if they shift to the government.

Besides Rajnath, the others who have become ministers are vice-presidents Uma Bharati, Smriti Irani and Najma Heptulla general secretaries Ananth Kumar, Dharmendra Pradhan and Thawar Chand Gehlot, and spokespersons Prakash Javadekar, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nirmala Sitharaman.

The 11-member parliamentary board has been emptied out of all its members, barring L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Ramlal, the general secretary (organisation). Sources, however, said the board, the BJP’s top decision-making body, would continue in its present form.

The process of filling in the blanks is expected to kick in after June when the new government is done with its first parliamentary session.

Sources said Prime Minister Modi was expected to go in for a “limited” cabinet expansion after the session, principally to appoint a defence minister and accommodate MPs from Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The states had no representation in his current council of ministers despite yielding the BJP a rich haul of seats.

First, a new party president will have to be “elected”. The term is a misnomer because an incumbent is invariably chosen by “consensus” once the RSS flashes the green signal.The president then constitutes his team as well as the state units.

The choice for Rajnath’s successor appears a toss-up between general secretaries J.P. Nadda and Amit Shah.

Nadda was chiefly patronised by Nitin Gadkari, a factor that may not exactly endear him to Modi who reportedly looked askance at the former party president’s proximity to RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat.

Shah, the architect of the Uttar Pradesh victory, is regarded as a hands-on organisational person. Some argue that like Modi, Shah is from Gujarat and might therefore, upset the regional balance. But a source said: “That should not be a hurdle. Modi belongs to India now, not just Gujarat. None will raise an eyebrow if Shah takes over.”

The source said Modi would like to control the BJP through proxy and Shah was the “perfect” candidate.