The return of a BJP government at the Centre would trigger a major change in the line-up of the party’s office bearers but BJP president Rajnath Singh has made it clear he would prefer to stay back in the party rather than join the next NDA government.
“He will insist on continuing in the organisation when formal discussion about cabinet formation starts in a couple of weeks,” a top BJP leader told HT, quoting Singh’s conversations with leaders in the party as well as the RSS — the BJP’s ideological parent. Singh, who is often projected as the liberal face of the BJP, took over as the party chief in 2013. His three-year term will end in December 2015.
Singh’s stand could smoothen the BJP’s transition from an opposition to a ruling party and avoid a repeat of 1999 when almost every senior BJP leader joined the government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee leaving the party in the hands of “inexperienced” Bangaru Laxaman and later K Jana Krishnamurthy.
BJP’s national office bearers consist of 40 leaders, including president, and the party may retain some of these “experienced hands” in the organisation to capitalise on what it calls the “Modi wave” and create ‘vibrant’ party structures in new areas after the Lok Sabha polls.
Seniors like Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari and a couple of others are almost certain to make it to council of ministers in a government under Modi, if voted to power.
Modi, party sources said, would also want Singh to join him in the government to ward off any speculation.
The RSS, party sources hinted, does not want to lose control over the organisation and it would be averse to Amit Shah, national general secretary and Modi confidant, becoming president and would prefer someone like Nitin Gadkari to take over the reins. But that situation would arise only if Singh joins the government.
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan – a leader with considerable following in his state – and his Goa counterpart Manohar Parrikar – known for his liberal and clean image – are also seen as probable for the President post. They were even considered when Gadkari’s chance for a second term was scuttled at the last moment.