The race to become BJP president has narrowed down to party general secretaries Amit Shah and Jagat Prakash Nadda with former Rajasthan unit president Om Mathur virtually dropping out of the race. A decision on the issue is expected after June 23-24.
With an eye on forthcoming assembly elections in Delhi, Haryana and Maharashtra, discussions between top RSS and BJP leaders are still on over the two candidates, top Sangh Parivar sources said.
The process for appointment of the BJP president for the remaining 18 months of Rajnath Singh’s tenure has entered the last phase with both Shah and Nadda reportedly in touch with RSS general secretary Suresh “Bhaiyaji” Joshi in June. Discussions have now moved to Nagpur with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat expected to informally convey his opinion on the issue.
While there is huge ground support for the 49-year-old Shah after the NDA won 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, the Sangh Parivar is undecided if both the Prime Minister and BJP president hailing from Gujarat is a good idea.
“Both the Sangh and the party are convinced that Shah has the political mind and strong personality to catapult the BJP into power in the forthcoming assembly elections but the problem is striking a balance,” said a senior Sangh leader. Shah had tasted electoral success in UP with the help of Sangh cadre and RSS leaders like Suresh Soni, Krishna Gopal and Sunil Bansal.
In contrast, 53-year-old Nadda is a quiet, non-controversial organisation man.
Nadda, like Shah, shares a good equation with the PM, home minister Rajnath Singh and finance minister Arun Jaitley.
A Rajya Sabha member, Nadda has worked with senior leaders at handling elections in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. “By appointing Nadda, there will be no question of two power centers. But Shah has the capacity to take independent decisions if he feels that it will help the party electorally,” said a BJP leader.
While Nadda could be inducted in the Modi government during the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle, there is no indication about Shah entering the Lok Sabha from the Vadodara seat, vacated by Modi.
“With BJP state units in Delhi, Haryana and, Maharashtra – after Gopinath Munde’s death-- still to function as cogent units, it is in the BJP’s best interests to use Shah to take the fight to the enemy camp in these states,” said a senior BJP leader.