The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dropped veteran leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi from its key decision-making parliamentary board on Tuesday, wrapping up the generational shift in the party that began with its stunning win in the general election three months ago.
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The three founding members are now part of a mentors’ panel, or Margdarshak Mandal, as a saving grace, but their exit firmly shuts the political door for the senior leaders who anchored the rise of the BJP in the 1990s and guided it through the tumultuous years in the opposition.
It is the first time that Vajpayee, 89, his long-time aide Advani, 86, and Manohar Joshi, 80, have not been accommodated in the board. The BJP has undergone a generational change under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose team does not have any leader above the age of 75.
HT first reported on August 23 that the veterans may not be inducted into the board.
All three have been party presidents in the past, with Advani nursing prime ministerial ambitions until last yearo. Advani's rath yatra in the 1990s and Vajpayee's charisma and ability to attract allies catapulted the party to power for the first time in 1996. Joshi was a prominent face of the Ayodhya movement and was known for his proximity to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the party’s ideological parent, much like Advani before he fell out with the saffron outfit on the issue of eulogising Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Advani was the BJP's prime ministerial face in the 2009 election and had opposed Modi's rise ahead of the 2014 election. He even skipped a BJP meeting in Goa last June, where Modi was appointed the chairman of the BJP'c campaign committee for the Lok Sabha polls.
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Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and general secretary JP Nadda, who lost to Amit Shah in the race for the BJP’s presidency, are the new faces in the panel. Being party chief, Shah is chairman of the board and a first-time entrant.
Chouhan is the only chief minister of a BJP-ruled state to get a seat in the coveted panel and also in the central election committee. His elevation puts to rest speculation about his fate as Madhya Pradesh chief minister following a series of scandals in appointments and medical examinations.
The BJP’s new parliamentary board comprises Amit Shah, Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar, Thawarchand Gehlot, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, JP Nadda and general secretary (organisation) Ramlal.
Shah has also constituted a new 15-member central election committee, which picks candidates for various elections, retaining most of the old faces. Tribal Affairs Minister Juel Oram and Mahila Morcha Chief Vijaya Rahatkar are the new faces.