BJP President Amit Shah appears to have weathered the storm triggered by the party’s veterans, including L K Advani, following the Bihar defeat and is moving to consolidate his position, leading to a second and full-fledged term at the helm next year, highly placed sources told The Indian Express.
Shah is currently busy organising a meeting of the party’s powerful national executive that may convene in Kolkata later this month. But while insiders expect questions to be raised about the setbacks in Delhi and Bihar, and the dip in rural Gujarat in the local body polls, sources said there is no “course correction” on the party’s agenda.
The BJP’s national executive has 105 members with 80 more expected to attend as invitees and permanent members. And Shah’s moves are being described as a “counter-revolt” after Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Yashwant Sinha insisted in a statement last month that responsibility should be fixed for the defeat in Bihar where the campaign was run by the party chief.
Party sources said Shah’s main strength was the faith reposed on him by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Insisting that Modi’s support “is not under review”, a source said, “Unless the PM decides to completely go against the wishes of Shah, the course correction demanded by the elders will never take place.”
Besides, Shah has kept the RSS leadership in the loop, ensuring its support at every step, said sources. “He has presented a lot of counter arguments, too, about how the party had treated the failures of the elders when the BJP was in the Opposition for decades, when losing elections was the norm,” said sources.
Apart from the national executive, Shah is said to be busy planning moves in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha. West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala go to polls next year. “To win 350-plus seats in 2019, which is the target, he has to establish the party’s presence in these non-Hindi speaking states,” said sources.
They said while Shah has privately acknowledged the setback in Bihar for the party and its core agenda, he has “not lost the momentum to build the organisation in states where party has hardly any presence”.
The other BJP leader who appears to be safe is Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, despite the Patidar crisis and the decline in votes at the local body polls this week. “The reality of my party is that political analysis or logic of any kind is not applicable to our Chief Minister Anandiben and party president Shah,” a senior BJP leader from Gujarat told The Indian Express.
Detailing Shah’s long-term plans, sources said that he is “ambitiously looking forward to his first full term as party president with pan-India plans”.
Shah took over as party chief from Rajnath Singh in July 2014, as the UP leader took over as the Union Home Minister. Sources said he is now poised to be re-elected in early 2016, this time for a full four-year term. “Major changes within the party, if any, will come only after the summer of 2016,” said sources.