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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

BJP signals return to hardcore Hindutva

Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 31, 2013
First Published: 23:51 IST(31/3/2013) | Last Updated: 09:46 IST(1/4/2013)

BJP president Rajnath Singh’s new team balances party lobbies and allies like JD(U) while addressing the growing clout of Narendra Modi, but it is likely to be read as a subtle return to core organisational and ideological values.

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While Modi -- who combines Hindutva and development discourses -- has been reinstated in the BJP parliamentary board, other key ideological figures also find a place.

Accused of being a conspirator in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter, former Gujarat home minister Amit Shah has been made a general secretary.

Though his induction is more as a Modi man than as a hardliner, it is likely to be seen as a controversial move and may not help improve Modi’s image too.

Hindutva firebrand leader Uma Bharti — once active in the Ram temple movement — is back as a vice-president.

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Also elevated to the key general secretary position is Varun Gandhi, once accused of a hate speech but subsequently discharged by a court.

Leaders close to Gandhi, however, say he is articulating “progressive, inclusive” politics rather than Hindutva for the past few years, and that his elevation is more in recognition of his electoral appeal. However, left out of the office-bearers’ team, an irked Vinay Katiyar said Gandhi’s “surname” worked for him.    

Not a single Muslim has been made general secretary. While Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi remains a vice-president, three-time MP Shahnawaz Hussain stays as spokesperson.

Najma Heptullah, who was vice-president, has just been accommodated in the national executive.

While Gadkari’s team included some celebrities, Rajnath’s team is more organisational. A known RSS hand, former Swadeshi Jagran Manch activist Murlidhar Rao has been elevated as general secretary. While Hema Malini and Navjot Sidhu have been dropped from the office bearers’ team, Smriti Irani managed to get in.

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