The role of the party machinery has been lauded lavishly for the BJP’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls. But behind the celebrations, the party soldiers who worked to build the organisation, implement Amit Shah’s strategies and mobilise voters are disappointed that they were not rewarded with ministerial berths.
Narendra Modi’s new council of ministers includes a former bureaucrat, three former chief ministers and three state unit presidents. However, no national office-bearer of the party has been included.
The BJP won 303 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, increasing it tally from 282. Its stellar performance in 20 states has been attributed to the strength of the organisation. The move to mobilise 22 crore beneficiaries of the Modi government’s welfare schemes apparently played a crucial role in increasing the party’s vote share. While BJP vice-presidents, general secretaries and secretaries in-charge of states worked relentlessly since 2014, its national spokespersons took up the task of building the Modi brand and BJP’s image. Many BJP office-bearers are now disappointed that they were left out of the government formation.
Among the BJP vice-presidents, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Prabhat Jha and O P Mathur are members of the Upper House. General secretaries Saroj Pandey, Bhupender Yadav and Anil Jain are also Rajya Sabha MPs, as are media cell head Anil Baluni and spokesperson GVL Rao. None of these names were considered for ministerial berths.
Three Rajya Sabha MPs — Amit Shah, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Smriti Irani — have resigned after being elected to the Lok Sabha. Party sources indicated that these vacancies could be utilised to get an office-bearer elected to Parliament. Two of these vacancies would be used to bring S Jaishankar and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan to Parliament.
General secretaries Kailash Vijayvargiya and Arun Singh, in charge of West Bengal and Odisha, respectively, worked to build the party organisation in the respective states and added a substantial number of seats to the BJP tally from unfamiliar grounds. In West Bengal, the BJP won 18 of 42 seats and in Odisha 8 of 21 seats. Singh’s name was doing the rounds for the Upper House when there were 58 vacancies in March 2018, and Vijayvargiya could not contest Lok Sabha polls from his turf Indore in this election as he was engaged in West Bengal.
Ram Madhav helped the BJP build its strength in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, and the party has formed governments in almost all the northeastern states. P Muralidhar Rao was in charge of the training programme for 1.5 million party members who played a significant role in the BJP’s Lok Sabha poll win. Rao is in charge of Karnataka, where the party’s win on 25 of the 28 seats has raised hopes for the next Assembly polls.
Rajya Sabha member and party general secretary Bhupender Yadav is in-charge of Bihar and Gujarat, where the party’s performance was exemplary. The party swept Gujarat, and won Bihar with allies JD(U) and LJP.
Sahasrabuddhe is in charge of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP won 28 of the 29 seats. Party general secretary Saroj Pandey is in-charge of Maharashtra, where the BJP and ally Shiv Sena won 41 seats of 48 seats.
Anil Jain was in charge of Haryana and Chhattisgarh. In Chhattisgarh, the BJP made a stunning comeback after losing the December Assembly polls, winning nine of 11 seats. The party swept Haryana. In Rajasthan, too, after losing the Assembly elections, the BJP won 24 of 25 seats. Avinash Rai Khanna is in charge of the state. Shyam Jaju is in charge of Delhi and Uttarakhand, where the party won all the seats. However, none of these leaders got a ministerial berth.
Only Prahalad Patel, BJP in-charge of Manipur, and Andhra Pradesh in-charge V Muraleedharan have been inducted as Union ministers of state.
Senior BJP leader J P Nadda, who was in-charge of Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha elections, was dropped from the cabinet. The BJP won 62 seats in the state. However, with Shah being appointed Home Minister, Nadda’s name is doing the rounds as the next BJP chief.
Most of these leaders maintained that they did not have ministerial ambitions and were content with organisational work. “We are loyal soldiers of the party. That makes the BJP different from other parties,” said one leader.
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