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BJP undergoes organisational revamp

Rajnath Singh drops Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi from the party's highest decision-making body, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 00:02 IST

BJP president Rajnath Singh, who has won a fresh term of three years, constituted his team on Monday, which signaled new equations within the party.

In an act of balancing between various factions within the party, Singh dropped Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi from the party's highest decision-making body -- the parliamentary board, since no other BJP Chief Ministers were members.

At the same time, in a move that should please Modi, Singh axed too his rival, Sanjay Joshi as general secretary (organisation).

Arun Jaitley retained his position as general secretary but lost the post of BJP spokesperson while being appointed the secretary of the parliamentary board, being the senior-most among the general secretaries.

But the post of secretary of the BJP's central election panel, which distributes ticket, went to Ananth Kumar. Late Pramod Mahajan had held the twin posts.

Singh named former Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, a Rajput leader from Bihar, as new spokesperson in addition to other spokespersons, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javdekar.

Senior RSS functionary, Ram Lal, who was inducted into the party earlier to tackle organisational ills in Uttar Pradesh, replaced Joshi who retained his membership of the BJP's national executive.

Curiously, Joshi's exit has come after nine months since he returned as BJP general secretary after he got a clean chit from the Madhya Pradesh police over the issue of a sleaze video compact disc (VCD) showing him and a woman.

Joshi's supporters had suspected the hand of leaders backing Modi and rebel Uma Bharti in the circulation of the VCD that sparked a controversy and forced Joshi to resign during the BJP's silver jubilee fete held in Mumbai in December 2005.

According to BJP insiders, the exit of Joshi was on the cards since the RSS, which reinstated him in April, feared that the Congress could rake up the issue again, hurting the BJP's efforts to rebuild the organisation.

Singh appointed former External Affairs Minister Yaswant Sinha as a vice-president, replacing L Ganesan who will focus more on the south. Sinha had been sidelined since his criticism of LK Advani following his comments on Jinnah in Pakistan. Sinha was removed as BJP spokesperson.

Singh named Rajasthan leader Ramdas Agarwal as treasurer in place of Ved Prakash Goyal while OP Kohli became the BJP parliamentary party Office Secretary in place of former MP Ashwini Kumar.

Singh elevated RSS man Bal Apte as a member of the parliamentary board and appointed Gopinath Munde, a backward class leader from Maharashtra and brother-in-law of late Pramod Mahajan, as a general Secretary.

Former Union Minister Shahnawaz Hussain, who won the Bhagalpur Lok Sabha seat recently, retained his berth in the central election panel but lost his secretary-post to become head of the party's minorities morcha.

Singh went by Advani's recommendation to make former journalist and BJP intellectual wing head Balbir Punj as a BJP secretary. He also appointed S Thirunavukarsar and Prabhat Jha as party secretaries.

Former PM A B Vajpayee's niece Karuna Shukla was made vice-president along with Orissa leader and former Union Minister Jual Oram. Kalyan Singh, Bal Apte, Shanta Kumar, Saheb Singh Verma, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Kailash Meghwal retained their position as vice-presidents.

Ex-Union Minister Ram Naik and senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh, a former additional spokesperson, were dropped as members of Singh's national executive, which included 13 women, six SC and five ST members.

Singh appointed Satya Narayan Jatiya as president of the SC morcha, replacing Ram Nath Kovind, Anant Nayak as head of the ST morcha in place of former MP Jaskaur Meena and Kiran Maheshwari as head of the Mahila Morcha in place of Karuna Shukla, who was made Vice-President. Youth leader Amit Thakkar was appointed president of the Yuva Morcha, replacing Dharmendra Pradhan, who was made a BJP secretary.