With eye on polls, BJP mulls reshuffle in state units

  • Kumar Uttam, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 10, 2015 16:36 IST
A BJP supporter waves a party flag at NDA's Parivartan Rally in Bhagalpur (PTI Photo)

The BJP has set the ball rolling for a major organisational shake-up with significant leadership changes in many of its state wings, especially those facing crucial assembly elections in the next couple of years.

The party has started the process of organisational elections by appointing poll in-charges in different states, a process through which it will elect its national president by this December-end or early January.

Party units in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Odisha, Jharkhand and a few others would get new presidents, a source said.

The move assumes significance as the BJP is pushing to win as many state elections as possible in the next few years to consolidate power in Parliament, where the Narendra Modi government’s reforms measures are getting blocked because the party is in the minority in the Rajya Sabha.

Seats are distributed in the Upper House based on the strength of parties in state assemblies.

A BJP functionary said a proposal to make Union minister and Chandni Chowk MP, Harsh Vardhan, the Delhi unit chief was considered to restore people’s confidence in the party after its crushing defeat in the February assembly polls in the Capital.

The physician-politician was the party’s candidate for Delhi chief minister in the 2013 elections and his immediate task, if he is drafted into the new assignment, would be to win Delhi’s three municipalities when they go to polls in 2017.

The BJP faces a tough challenge to retain power in all three municipal corporations after ruling them for three terms.
In Uttar Pradesh where polls are in 2017, former legislators and current general secretaries in the state unit, Swatantra Dev Singh and Dharampal Singh, are seen as main contenders for the top post.

“The exit of serving chief Lakshmikant Bajpai is imminent. The BJP national president wants an OBC face in Uttar Pradesh. Both contenders are from the backward community,” a party functionary said.
The BJP seeks to repeat its impressive Lok Sabha performance in the assembly polls in the country’s most populous and politically-sensitive state.

Punjab, which goes to polls alongside Uttar Pradesh, may get a new chief too. The party’s central leadership is apparently unhappy with state chief Kamal Sharma’s handling of factionalism in the ranks.

There is also a buzz that Rahul Sinha could be dropped as chief of West Bengal, where the BJP is trying to gain a strong hold before polls in 2016.

BJP leaders said intervention was required to arrest a popularity downslide as the West Bengal unit failed to seize the
advantage from last year’s Modi wave. “Consensus eludes the replacement being considered,” one of them said.

In Maharashtra and Haryana, two big BJP-ruled states, serving party unit presidents could get another three years. But several new faces are likely to be brought in and assigned important tasks.

In BJP-ruled Jharkhand, the new party president would be chief minister Raghubar Das’s choice. Odisha too is tipped for a leadership change.

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