A week after the party national council ratified his appointment, BJP president Amit Shah on Saturday named his team of office-bearers, dropping Varun Gandhi as general secretary.
Shah inducted former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa as a vice-president and former RSS spokesman Ram Madhav as one of the general secretaries.
The surprise exclusions are C P Thakur and Rameshwar Chaurasia, both very vocal supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Thakur was a vice-president and Chaurasia a secretary in the Rajnath Singh team.
Kalyan Singh, S S Ahluwalia and Balbir Punj, all vice-presidents in the earlier team, have also been left out. Kalyan Singh is tipped for a gubernatorial post. Ahluwalia and Punj are members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively.
Secretaries Arati Mehra and Vani Tripathi have also been dropped. Spokesman Abhimanyu too has been left out.
Varun Gandhi, a known face of the party in UP, was said to have been dropped for two reasons. One, Modi follows a policy of not giving any important assignment to a son or daughter of a chief minister or a Union minister — Varun’s mother Maneka Gandhi is a minister in his government. Two, he is not known to be very close to either Modi or Shah.
The appointment of Yeddyurappa, who would have ideally wanted a Cabinet berth, as a vice-president marks his complete rehabilitation in the party following his return ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Shah has retained former Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as a vice-president. The other vice-presidents are Bandaru Dattatreya and Satyapal Malik, both Lok Sabha members; Purushottam Rupala and Prabhat Jha, former presidents of the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh units; Raghuvar Das, a former deputy chief minister of Jharkhand; Kiran Maheshwari, a former Lok Sabha member from Rajasthan; Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, a former key aide of Nitin Gadkari; Renu Devi from Bihar; and, Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma.
The new BJP chief has retained general secretaries Ram Lal, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, J P Nadda and Muralidhar Rao. The new additions to the pack, other than Ram Madhav, are Rajya Sabha member Bhupendra Yadav (Rajasthan), Ram Shankar Katheriya (UP) and Saroj Pandey (Chhattisgarh). Pandey was the Mahila Morcha chief in the earlier team.
The role of RSS pracharaks in running the party has been expanded. Four pracharaks who will assist Ram Lal as joint general secretaries are V Satish, Saudan Singh, Shiv Prakash and B L Santosh.
Yeddyurappa is 71 years old but Shah, 51, has picked a relatively younger set of office-bearers, most below the age of 60. The team has a mix of castes and regions, including five persons from other backward castes and six women.
No major representation has been given to poll-bound states – Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir. Jharkhand and Haryana have one one representative each while Jammu and Kashmir has none.
The 14 secretaries are Lok Sabha member Poonam Mahajan, daughter of Pramod Mahajan, Shrikant Sharma, head of the media cell, Siddharth Nath Singh, Shyam Jaju, Anil Jain, H Raja, Ramesh Deka, Sudha Yadav, Ram Shekar Netam, Arun Singh, a close relation of Rajnath Singh, R P Singh, Jyoti Dhruve, Tarun Chugh and Rajneesh Kumar.
Anurag Thakur continues as chief of the youth wing chief. Former Aurangabad mayor Vijaya Rahatkar is the new Mahila Morcha chief.
The five spokespersons who have been retained are M J Akbar, Shahnawaz Hussain, Sudhanshu Trivedi, Meenakshi Lekhi and Vijay Sonkar Shastri. They will now be joined by Nalin Kohli, Sambit Patra, Anil Baluni, G V L Narasimha Rao and Lalitha Kumaramangalam.
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