The responsibility given to Sunil Bansal of West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana, where the BJP sees its brightest chances, is a nod to the new party national general secretary, who cut his teeth turning around the party in Uttar Pradesh, where its unit was badly known for infighting.
Coinciding with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s tenure at the head of the BJP, Bansal’s eight-year time in UP as first joint general secretary (organisation) and then general secretary (organisation) saw the BJP go from strength to strength. Considered close to Shah, he is believed to have not enjoyed as good relations with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
In 2018, there were rumors that he would be shifted to Rajasthan as BJP state president. However, the established leadership there is believed to have blocked that.
While there is no doubt about Bansal’s skills, he has a challenge on his hands in Bengal, where despite the BJP’s best efforts and some gains, the party finds itself playing catch-up with the Trinamool Congress. Bansal, who belongs to a business family, has links in Bengal.
Bansal has been replaced by Dharampal Singh as general secretary (organisation) in UP. Like Bansal, Dharampal Singh – who comes from Jharkhand – is an RSS man. BJP general secretaries (organisation) are RSS appointees. Karamveer Singh replaces Dharampal in Jharkhand.
Both Dharampal and Karamveer belong to UP – the first from a village in Nagina tehsil of Bijnor district in western UP, and Karmveer from a village near Hathras.While Dharmpal is a Saini (an OBC group), Karmveer is a Jat, a community also listed as OBC in five states, including UP. With the Samajwadi Party putting up a good fight against the BJP in the recent Assembly elections in UP, the BJP is looking to woo non-Yadav OBCs to its side.
Before Bansal was brought in as BJP joint general secretary to UP in 2014, he was working in Punjab. Earlier he was sangathan mantri of the ABVP there.
Bansal was brought to UP amid reports of uneasy relations between then BJP state president Lakshmikant Vajpayee and then general secretary (organisation) Rakesh Jain. Since Bansal replaced Jain before the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the BJP has done well in all the elections in UP (2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha, and 2017 and 2022 Assembly polls).
However, the shifting of Bansal was due for a long time, with his work in UP considered done after the BJP with ally Apna Dal won 73 of 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. He replaces Kailash Vijayvargiya in Bengal, Tarun Chugh in Telangana and D Purandeswari in Odisha. Telangana, where the BJP is hoping to give the TRS a tough competition, goes to polls in 2023. Odisha, where the Congress is in a decline, leaving space for the BJP, votes in 2024.
Dharampal Singh, also an ABVP product like Bansal, holds a diploma in Engineering. Dharmpal, who is in his early 50s, joined the ABVP as a full-timer in the early Nineties, after doing a private job for a few years.
He was the kshetriya sanghatan mantri of the ABVP in western UP when, in June 2017, he was sent to the BJP as general secretary (organisation) in Jharkhand. While Jharkhand was a relatively quiet post, Dharmpal would be under the spotlight in UP given the large shoes of Bansal he has to fill.
Karamveer Singh, who is in his late 40s, was sah prant pracharak of the RSS in ‘Braj Pradesh’ (as the Sangh calls an area comprising districts around Agra and Mathura), when he was sent to the BJP in November 2020. Since then, he had been headquartered in Meerut and looking after the western UP region.