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Daunting task ahead for Jatia

SITUATION COULD not have been more ironical for the BJP in the State. It has a chief minister with no experience in administration and now State president without much organisational experience.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2006 14:52 IST

SITUATION COULD not have been more ironical for the BJP in the State. It has a chief minister with no experience in administration and now State president without much organisational experience.

While Chief Minister Shivraj Sigh Chouhan is still learning the art of governance, State BJP chief Satyanarayan Jatia has a tough task ahead of choosing his team out of the people most of whom he is not quite familiar with. It is about a week since Jatia took over as State president but there seems no hurry in the organisation for formation of his team.

The relative vacuum has afforded State BJP organisation general secretary Kaptan Singh Solanki an opportunity to call the shots. He was the most powerful organisation man during Babulal Gaur's chief ministership but ascension of Chouhan on the chief minister's post saw clipping of his wings to some extent. Now he seems to have regained his powerful position as was evident in the sudden suspension of the four party MLAs who owe allegiance to Uma Bharti. The suspension almost coincided with Jatia's take over as the BJP chief but the new incumbent had little role in the action, say party sources.

Now this situation has triggered speculation in the party whether Jatia would like Solanki to run the show or assert himself after understanding the power equation in the State party unit. The State BJP president faces daunting task ahead in constituting his team. Though there is little likelihood of a major change in the existing team, as it was constituted about nine months back, the biggest problem Jatia faces is how to deal with Uma acolytes and curb her influence in the Bundelkhand region.

So far Jatia has attempted to play safe on Uma factor. He even cryptically remarked that Uma is beyond him, giving indication that he would rather let the Central leadership to deal with the issue of her possible return, if at all.

Nevertheless, Jatia on assuming the office, sent out a message to the party's rank and file that he would not look to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in running the organisation beyond a point. He even talked of reviewing the government's performance vis-à-vis the party' s manifesto and fulfilling the aspirations of people in general and the party workers in particular.

The sources said if Jatia were given free hand to run the party affairs, Vikram Verma and Krishna Murari Moghe groups in the party could get greater say than other lobbies. Incidentally, Vikram Verma had defeated Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the election for party president in the past and since then there is no love lost between the two. Thus, Verma's greater say in the organisation through Jatia could spell trouble for the Chief Minister.

Jatia's another dilemma is whether to retain party vice-president Raghunandan Sharma in his team. Sharma had openly extended support to the Uma camp at the time of show of strength in the BJP. Jatia's rival in Ujjain politics, Babulal Jain, presently treasurer in the State unit, might not find favour with him for any important post. The sources said Raghunandan Sharma himself is unwilling to be in Jatia's team.

He is said to be waiting for April when Uma Bharti might announce launch of a new political party after her Janadesh Yatra, to take decision on his further course of politics. The most crucial question agitating the party is how the new president gets along with Kaptan Singh Solanki. The party is still looking out for strong leaders in Bundelkhand and Mahakoshal regions to give a befitting reply to Uma Bharti.

Chouhan propped up his acolyte Bhupendra Singh in Bundelkhand region to combat the Uma Bharti factor. It remains to be seen if Jatia relies on Bhupendra Singh or supports some OBC leader to counter Uma Bharti's backward class card in the regions.