A day after Ramlal was withdrawn as BJP’s general secretary by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the saffron party on Sunday appointed BL Santhosh to the post. Ramlal has been the general secretary (organisation) of the BJP for the last 12 years, the longest-serving leader in that post. Santhosh was the joint general secretary of BJP.
The post of general secretary is a crucial one for BJP and the one holding the post acts as a bridge between the two organisations — BJP and RSS. A full-time RSS ‘pracharak’ is appointed to the post, who works on deputation in the party until his repatriation.
It is considered that Santhosh enjoys the trust of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah. His views have often played a key role in the party’s decisions related to southern states, especially Karnataka, a place he hails from and where he was the BJP’s general secretary (organisation) for eight years.
Santhosh is an assertive leader who can effectively espouse the party’s Hindutva ideology, his appointment to the second most powerful post in the party assumes extra significance at a time when it is set to undergo organisational changes. Ahead of the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections, he had strongly defended the BJP’s surprise decision to not give a ticket to its senior leader Ananth Kumar’s widow Tejaswini Ananth Kumar from her husband’s pocket borough of Bangalore South.
Though the party move had ruffled a few feathers of the state leaders, ‘the party cannot give a poll ticket on the basis of DNA and genes’ he had said then. The BJP also improved its show in the general election in southern states like Telangana and Karnataka under his leadership.
As the organisational elections in the BJP are due in the coming months and speculation rife that Shah, who is also the home minister, may relinquish his party post, Santosh’s role will be crucial in steering the organisation through these changes, while keeping it battle-ready for the assembly elections ahead.
After Ramlal was withdrawn by RSS as party general secretary yesterday, Santhosh tweeted: “It was 12 years of learning with Ramlal from 2006…I was deputed to the political field along with him..Calm, composed, attention to details were his hallmark. He was a father figure to many like me..Back to Sangh work. Wish you all the best ji ..We will miss you.”
It was 12 years of learning with @Ramlal from 2006 ..I was deputed to political field along with him ..Calm , composed , attention to details were his hallmark .He was a father figure to many like me.. Back to Sangh work .Wish you all the best ji ..We will miss you..@BJP4India
— B L Santhosh (@blsanthosh) July 13, 2019
Ramlal, 67, was appointed to this post in 2007, and has now been appointed as sah-sampark pramukh or joint communication chief of RSS. Sources said in his new role, Ramlal will be responsible for developing contacts among “special category” – or elite – people.
As general secretary (organisation), Ramlal worked with three BJP presidents: Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Amit Shah. Unlike his predecessors – K N Govindacharya and Sanjay Joshi – Ramlal leaves the post without any controversies.
As he exits the BJP organisation, Ramlal, active in the Sangh since the Emergency days, leaves a significant mark in the party’s history, holding a key post when it is at its peak. During his term, the BJP recorded stunning victories in two General Elections and several Assembly polls.
Another change announced at the Vijayawada meeting was that Rakesh Jain, who was general secretary (organisation) of BJP in UP four years ago and now works as sangathan mantra of Sewa Bharti, an RSS organisation working among the deprived sections, will now be all-India joint head of paryawaran vibagh (environment department).
The decision to elect Santhosh was taken at the RSS’s ‘pranth pracharak baithak’, which concluded in Vijaywada on Saturday. The other names considered for the top post were that of Shivprakash and V Satish, both national joint secretaries of BJP, and Saudan Singh.