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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

BJP chief Amit Shah's new team shows strong RSS presence, Varun dropped

Kumar Uttam , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 17, 2014
First Published: 02:07 IST(17/8/2014) | Last Updated: 02:27 IST(17/8/2014)

Gearing up for future elections, BJP president Amit Shah on Saturday unveiled his new team that includes some fresh faces, has a strong RSS presence and has dropped, among others, general secretary Varun Gandhi.

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With the exception of a few members, the average age of the team is under-50, which also reflects the generational change the BJP has undergone.

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Senior Rashtriya Swayam-sevak Sangh pracharaks Ram Madhav and Shiv Prakash — recently sent to the BJP by its ideological parent —  have been given key roles as general secretary and joint general secretary (organisation), respectively. Several others with strong RSS backgrounds — such as Murlidhar Rao, Ramshankar Katheriya (general secretaries) and BL Santosh (joint general secretary, organisation) — have also been included. RSS favourite JP Nadda has been retained as general secretary. Out of eight general secretaries in the team, five have strong RSS roots.

Read: Shah drops Varun with eye on disciplining young Turks

Nine members of the team come from Uttar Pradesh, where Shah led the BJP to a famous victory in the general elections that he hopes to replicate in assembly polls in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir later this year — and three years later in UP. Naturally, several faces from the other four poll-bound states have also been included.

Former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa has been appointed party vice-president in his first role as a national office-bearer. Ditto for former Jharkhand deputy CM Raghubar Das and Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma.

In all, the team comprises 11 vice-presidents, eight general secretaries and 14 secretaries as well as 10 party spokespersons. His predecessors worked with one general secretary (organisation) and two deputies, but Shah’s team will have four joint general secretaries (organisation) assisting Ram Lal, who has been retained as general secretary (organisation) despite several leaders having reservations about his style of functioning.   

Read: Social groups, states in focus in new team

Mahila Morcha chief Saroj Pandey, bête noire of Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, and Rajya Sabha MP Bhupendra Yadav are the new entrants in the general secretaries’ club. Former Aurangabad mayor Vijaya Rahatkar will replace Pandey as head of the women’s wing.

Syed Shahnawaz Hussain and Sudhanshu Trivedi have kept their jobs as spokesman while the BJP’s media convenor Shrikant Sharma has been promoted to national secretary. The party has handed Anurag Thakur a third term as chief of the yuva morcha, or youth wing.

The next round of big changes will come when the BJP constitutes the parliamentary board, its highest decision-making body. It is not clear if three party veterans  — Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi — will retain their  seats in this body.

Read: BJP chief looks east for electoral gains


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