With an eye on upcoming elections in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where backward communities constitute a large section of the electorate, the BJP on Friday constituted an OBC Morcha. The day also saw party president Amit Shah execute a major reshuffle among office bearers to boost BJP fortunes in several states.
Party leaders said the creation of OBC Morcha, first time in BJP’s history, is “significant in terms of BJP’s long term election strategy”. In Bihar, where the party faces a united Opposition led by the ruling JD(U), OBCs and most backward communities constitute 46 per cent of the population. S P Singh Bagel, a key OBC leader from Uttar Pradesh, will head the new Morcha and former MP Sudha Yadav will be its in-charge.
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In a significant move, Shah has appointed Kailash Vijayvargiya, known for his election management skills, as the general secretary in charge of West Bengal, where the party is desperate to improve its electoral prospects. Vijayvargiya, whose skills had helped the BJP win a spectacular victory in Haryana elections earlier this year, will be assisted by Sidharth Nath Singh and Suresh Pujari. Sidharth Nath Singh has also been given the charge of Andhra Pradesh, while BJP leader in UP Mahendra Singh will manage party affairs in poll-bound Assam.
Interestingly, Ram Madhav, who played a significant role in forging the BJP-PDP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir, has not been given charge of any state.
Sunil Ojha, who played a key role in Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha poll campaign in Varanasi, has been made co-in charge of Uttar Pradesh. Besides Ojha, the in-charge of party affairs in UP, O P Mathur, now has four co- in charges — Virendra Khateek, Rameshwar Chaurasiya, Ramesh Bishuri and Satyendra Kushwaha.
Businessman-turned-politician C R Patil, believed to be close to the PM and former MLA Pawan Sharma, will be assisting Bhupendra Yadav in party affairs in Bihar.
In what could be seen as a reward for her work in mass contact programme, the second phase of the BJP’s membership campaign, Saroj Pandey has been made in-charge of party affairs in Maharashtra. BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao will take care of party affairs in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and former Congress leader and Union Minister D Purandeshwari will be co-in charge of Karnataka. Purandeshwari has also been given charge of BJP’s Mahila Morcha.
Prabhat Jha has been shifted from Delhi, where BJP lost the elections, to Punjab and Chandigarh. Shyam Jaju has been appointed the new in-charge for Delhi. Young MP and daughter of late Pramod Mahajan Poonam Mahajan, who was in-charge of party affairs in Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, has been taken off the list of state in-charges. The charge for the two Union Territories has been given to Raghunath Kulkarni.