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All eyes on BJP states' list

All eyes are now on new BJP chief Rajnath Singh next task. Allotting work among his general secretaries and vice-presidents, which would determine their pecking order in the party and their standing vis a vis the RSS.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 01:35 IST

All eyes are now on new BJP chief Rajnath Singh next task. Allotting work among his general secretaries and vice-presidents, which would determine their pecking order in the party and their standing vis a vis the RSS.

Rajnath, who announced his team on January 25, is expected to allot the states when he chairs a meeting on February 2. Among his other immediate plans are a Kashmir to Kanyakumari tour.

The states ruled by the BJP are considered plum assignments because those in charge are the party bosses for the governments there.

At present, Arun Jaitely looks after Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Gujarat. Pramod Mahajan supervises Rajasthan. Mahajan is also in charge Assam, where elections are due in two months, and his home state Maharashtra.

The buzz is that Jaitley may shed a BJP-ruled states for key states in the North, probably Punjab, which goes to polls in 2007, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Mahajan, seen to be getting close to Rajnath, has said he is ready to play a role in Uttar Pradesh, which he looked during the 2004 polls.

This is notwithstanding, Rajnath has already already asked Kalyan Singh to assume full charge, and even announced that he's next Chief Minister.

So far, Rajnath has not indicated who are members of his "core team" like the one that functioned under L K Advani's era as well as when Venkaiah Naidu was BJP president.

However, Rajnath has enlarged the circle of BJP leaders who are taken into confidence before major decisions. They include former HRD Minister M M Joshi and former PM A B Vajpayee's aide Brajesh Mishra, who is being consulted on foreign policy issues. In fact, BJP sources said Mishra was consulted by Rajnath before his statement on the controversy over US envoy David Mulford's interview.

Mishra, who was Vajpayee's principal secretary during the NDA rule, is back in the BJP affairs after a long gap. He headed the BJP's foreign affairs cell when the party was in the opposition, prior to the NDA rule.

By design or default, BJP leaders say Rajnath is keen to a style of functioning that is different from the approach of Advani and Venkaiah Naidu.

Not only is the RSS consulted more often, those leaders like Shanta Kumar, Yashwant Sinha and Madan Lal Khurana find themselves in the reckoning again.

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar endorsed Jaswant Singh's pilgrimage to Pakistan and did not find anything amiss in his proposed visit to Jinnah's mausoleum in Karachi.

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 01:35 IST