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A raw deal for Rajnath?

A sizable section of the BJP feels the new party chief wasn't given due importance, writes Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2006 01:49 IST

A fresh controversy questioning the legitimacy of Rajnath Singh's appointment as BJP president seems to have broken out in the already divided Sangh Parivar. A section of party leaders want to know why proper procedure wasn't followed while appointing Singh as party chief in Mumbai and why his candidacy wasn't endorsed before the formal announcement, especially when so much is being made of the Constitution being followed.

The BJP National Council will meet here on January 20 to ratify Singh's appointment.

A senior leader said Singh was definitely more qualified for the job than any of the other young leaders but his name should have been placed before the National Executive in Mumbai. Another party leader said: "If it wasn't done, then it should have been endorsed at the plenary or a meeting of office-bearers or in the BJP Parliamentary Board. Since proper procedure hasn't been followed, a question mark has arisen over the legitimacy of the take-over. His (Singh's) name was finalised by Advaniji and Atalji in consultation with the Sangh but why was he treated so shabbily? First, they denied any decision regarding him had been taken, and then they merely announced his appointment at a press conference without going through the norms."

A sizable section feels Singh wasn't given due importance because Advani's coterie thought that if his name was officially announced before the Mumbai conclave, then the spotlight would be on him rather than on the outgoing president, for whom the entire tamasha had been organised. All through the conclave, Singh was made to sit in the back row while others hogged the limelight. Even at the public meeting, he wasn't on the dais. "This isn't the way to treat your president. After all, he has been chief minister and Union minister and was also a senior office-bearer of the party," the leader said.

And for those who thought the tussle in the BJP would be over after the changeover, there's disappointment on the cards. Lobbying has already begun within the Sangh to replace Jaswant Singh as leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha. The argument being: How can Rajputs hold the positions of both BJP chief and leader of the opposition in the Upper House? Advani had been very careful and even though he hadn't got approval for Singh's name in Mumbai, he had made it known through various leaders that his position as leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha was secure. Now, it seems Jaswant Singh will have to use all his influence with Vajpayee and Advani to hold on to his position.

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 01:17 IST