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BJP’s ‘bridge’ to Big Four

Sushma receives Modi at the Palam air force base on his return from Japan. (PTI)

New Delhi, Sept. 3: BJP general secretaries Ramlal and Ram Madhav have been tasked to deal with the cabinet’s “Big Four” to strengthen co-ordination mechanisms between the party and the Narendra Modi government.

The “Big Four” include Prime Minister Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh, finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley, and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

Presiding over this informal arrangement — that some in the BJP termed a “core committee”— is president Amit Shah, the Prime Minister’s long-term confidant.

Sources said Ramlal and Madhav would communicate suggestions put forth by party officials and leaders for the government to chew on. The duo will apprise the party brass of “flaws” in the government’s working, if any, and popular sentiments, besides recommending mid-course corrections.

Ramlal is general secretary (organisation), a position that places him as the first among equals in the phalanx of eight others because he is the principal channel of communication between the party and the RSS.

Ram Madhav, a former RSS official recently drafted into the BJP, is also a general secretary who concerns himself with foreign policy-related subjects. However, because Madhav enjoys the confidence of RSS seniors and Modi, he was picked as a conduit along with Ramlal.

Sources said in keeping with Modi’s diktat that BJP favour-seekers would not be brooked in his “system”, party members have been told to not come up with requests for transfers and postings for friends and relatives or for awarding out-of-turn contracts and other similar favours.

“If help is required for an emergency, the matter will be verified and depending on how genuine it is, it could be pursued,” a source said, adding the implementation of government policies would be the party’s first priority.

Ramlal and Madhav, the sources said, would also be expected to brief the RSS on the government’s functioning.

The need for evolving such a mechanism arose when the government was confronted with the controversy arising from demands to tweak the civil services’ preliminary tests so that the aspirants from the Hindi-speaking states would get a level-playing field.

As the government tried to buy time by setting up a panel to look into various aspects of the matter, BJP cadre grew restive. They contended that since the party had won the bulk of its Lok Sabha seats from the Hindi heartland, there was no way the government could give the agitators the short shrift.

“There was a division in the government’s top echelons. One minister wanted the English orientation to continue, another was against it. But in such cases, the party’s view should prevail. Somebody authoritative is required to present the party’s viewpoint to the Prime Minister and his colleagues,” a source said.

The absence of such a structure had brought to fore fault-lines in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Nobody in the party then was assigned to take up issues with the government.

This time, the sources stressed that Modi had made up his mind from Day One that the government and the party would complement each other and work as “equals”.