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Will Shivraj Singh Chouhan now get top body seat?

Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 10, 2013
First Published: 00:31 IST(10/12/2013) | Last Updated: 17:29 IST(10/12/2013)

After Shivraj Singh Chouhan handsomely won the Bharatiya Janata Party an unprecedented third term in Madhya Pradesh, murmurs have begun within the senior party leadership that the victorious state leader should be appointed to the top decision-making body of the party – the Parliamentary Board.

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While there is consensus among the veteran leadership that Chouhan should be promoted to the Board, this nascent move is being seen by a section of the leadership as a plan to pitch the Madhya Pradesh chief minister against Narendra Modi, the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

On Sunday, Chouhan made it clear that he would work to ensure that the BJP bags the maximum number of seats in MP during next year’s Lok Sabha elections so that Modi could be India’s next prime minister.

Following talk of Chouhan’s elevation, a section of the party leadership is now keen that Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh is also promoted since he too has won a state Assembly election for a historic third time.

Under Chouhan’s leadership, the BJP won 165 seats in the 230-seat MP Assembly while Raman Singh managed 49 seats in the 90-seat Chhattisgarh Assembly.

According to the Bharatiya Janata Party website, the Parliamentary Board has 12 members. This is one more than is allowed by the party’s Constitution that permits a Board comprising the national president and 10 other members.

At present, the board comprises party president Rajnath Singh, former prime minister AB Vajpayee, former deputy prime minister LK Advani, MM Joshi, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Narendra  Modi, Ananth Kumar, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Ram Lal.

Ram Lal, general secretary (organisation), was previously designated special invitee to the board, but was later accommodated as permanent member.

“In case, the party is serious about appointing Chouhan to the Board, the body will have to be reconstituted or the party Constitution will have to be amended,” said a senior party functionary.

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