Women supporters of the BJP dance as they celebrate after Rajnath Singh was elected as party president in New Delhi. PTI/Vijay Kumar Joshi
Supporters of Rajnath Singh dance after Singh was elected as the new President of Bharatiya Janata Party at the party headquarters in New Delhi. Reuters/Mansi ...
Rajnath Singh seeks the blessing of senior BJP leader LK Advani as outgoing party president Nitin Gadkari looks on in New Delhi. HT/Ajay Aggarwal
Senior BJP leader LK Advani and outgoing party chief Nitin Gadkari attend a meeting before the election of BJP president at party headquarters in New ...
Rajnath Singh is seen with other leaders like Sushma Swaraj, MM Joshi, Nitin Gadkari and Ananth Kumar during the election process for the post of ...
Rajnath Singh waves along with his supporters at the party headquarters in New Delhi. Reuters/Mansi Thapliyal
Rajnath Singh receives a turban from his supporters after his appointment at the party headquarters in New Delhi. Reuters/Mansi Thapliyal
Supporters greet newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh during an election in New Delhi. AFP
Newly elected President of Bharatiya Janata Party Rajnath Singh sits next to the outgoing BJP chief Nitin Gadkari during a news conference at the party ...
BJP president Rajnath Singh is seen with party workers after addressing a press conference in New Delhi. UNI
Rajnath Singh took charge as BJP president on Wednesday but it was Nitin Gadkari’s shadow on the message that was sent out — the party was moving in a new direction where corrupt, unethical behaviour would not be tolerated.
LK Advani, who had bitterly opposed corruption-tainted Gadkari’s re-election, announced Rajnath’s elevation as a move of internal correction. “Among our prominent people, let not any dearth of honesty and morality be perceived… Rajnath Singh must foster the image that there will be no compromise with unethical behaviour,” he told party leaders. “We should prove this is a party with a difference and not a party of differences, as our opponents say.”
Advani also reminded Rajnath of the challenges ahead of him: using his credentials as a farmer leader to spread the BJP’s influence among rural voters, and reviving the party in his home state of Uttar Pradesh.
Rajnath, on his part, used the occasion to defend his predecessor — “the BJP stands by Gadkari” — and to reach out to the Sangh by rebuffing home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s comment on BJP and RSS involvement in ‘Hindu terror’. “The government wants to fuel communal tensions for votebank politics,” he said.
With the Gadkari chapter closed and a new CEO in place, BJP sources indicated the coming months would see greater involvement by senior leaders in preparations for the 2014 general elections and on the all-important decision on a prime ministerial candidate.
They also said that the RSS - in a break from the past, when it "micro-managed" BJP affairs - had indicated it would rely on senior leaders such as Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar as well as Rajnath to be the party's "anchors" and sort out all issues. Gujarat
CM Narendra Modi, overwhelming favourite to be PM candidate, would in all likelihood make the cut with Swaraj and Jaitley as "added attractions", they added.
Swaraj, Jaitely, Naidu and Ananth were involved in last-minute discussions on Tuesday to try and evolve “consensus” on Rajnath’s
name before Gadkari announced he was bowing out. Apparently, Modi was also involved in the process with one of the leaders discussing the issue with them.
Plans would also be set in motion for the state elections, the sources said. While the BJP may not be able to check its slide in Karnataka, which goes to polls in March, Vasundhara Raje was set to be made president of the party's Rajasthan unit and chief minister candidate for the polls due in December.