The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mahajan on rebound road

New Delhi, June 12: Pramod Mahajan, once widely considered the BJP’s future among the second-rung leaders, has literally regained his voice in the party, hinting at the emergence of new power equations.

The general secretary’s loyalist in Maharashtra, Prakash Jawadekar, has been put in-charge of the party’s media cell and appointed a spokesperson.

Mahajan, maintaining a low profile after his exit from the Centre last January, appears to be regaining his hold in the party now that BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu is busy undoing his controversial statement on the party leadership.

Jawadekar’s association with Mahajan goes back to their RSS days when both were pracharaks.

Party spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi — who will retain the post — said at a briefing that Jawadekar will hold the dual positions until the Assembly elections in October-November.

Jawadekar, however, said later that he would be shifting permanently to Delhi from Mumbai after the BJP’s four-day chintan baithak (introspection session) ends on June 20.

Mahajan, the BJP’s overall election coordinator, has kept himself out of the 11 Ashoka Road headquarters since his return to the party, preferring to involve himself in poll preparations in Rajasthan where he is the party’s chunav prabhari (election in-charge).

Then the controversy over who would lead the BJP in the next general poll — Atal Bihari Vajpayee or his deputy, L.K. Advani — cropped up, fuelled by certain remarks made by the party president.

Naidu, who was perceived as a proactive president unlike his predecessors, was determined not to let the BJP submerge its identity in the National Democratic Alliance government’s.

His approach had earned him kudos from the party cadre until he made his controversial comment, which was seen to undermine Vajpayee’s authority while he was out of the country.

The BJP now considers Naidu to be on a “weak wicket”; a party president who may have to spend his time and energy on saving his job.

So Jawadekar’s appointment is being seen as the likely beginning of new power equations within the party, where Naidu will not be the nucleus.

The BJP’s campaign committee met today and decided to release separate manifestos for Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Chhattisgarh, each of which will go to the polls this year. Mizoram, the fifth state in the election line-up, was not mentioned.

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