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Rajnath's revamp sparks controversy

Party insiders describe the exercise as 'unconstitutional and illegal' as per party rules, reports Pankaj Vohra.
None | By Pankaj Vohra, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 31, 2007 03:14 AM IST

Rajnath Singh's re-organisation of the BJP's parliamentary board and election committee has not gone down well with the party. Party insiders have termed the effort "illegal" under the party's constitution.

The reorganisation also bears the stamp of former party president LK Advani. The RSS, which had joined issue with him over his controversial remarks on Jinnah during his Pakistan visit earlier, seems to have lost out in the process.

The BJP constitution provides for a new parliamentary board and election committee either after an election of the national executive or through nomination if the national executive authorises the party chief.

In this instance, it was neither as the national executive and the two bodies were constituted simultaneously. Even before the national executive could meet, BJP president Singh surprised everyone by revamping the party's two highest decision making bodies. A senior BJP leader said "even Advani had named his teams after seeking the executive's authorisation."

But BJP spokesperson Prakash Javedkar maintained that the two bodies had been revamped after Singh consulted the Sangh Parivar. "He made the right balance between experience and new faces" after he was authorised by the national council in Lucknow to constitute the bodies.

Advani's hand is evident in the selection given that both Arun Jaitley, the parliamentary board secretary, and Ananth Kumar, the election committee secretary, are close to him. Advani also got his loyalist Balbir Punj made secretary, something he was unable to do as party chief.

The exit of Sanjay Joshi, the RSS nominee among the central office bearers, is also seen as Advani's victory although an impression is being given that Narendra Modi and Joshi had been kept out to restore balance. Modi's exit is also explained in his being the most successful BJP CM and a future challenger to Rajnath.

Another BJP leader said Rajnath seems to have had a free hand only in nominating his community members as presidents of various state units or spokespersons while Advani still controls the party. Rajnath has appointed Rajputs as presidents of the party's units in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal and Uttrakhand and has also brought in Rajiv Pratap Rudy as spokesman.

Another unpopular decision is making O.P.Kohli parliamentary party secretary. Under party convention, only the parliamentary party appoints the office secretary and not the president.

But above all, the reorganisation has shown the RSS losing its hold over the BJP and that its insistence on making ideology the theme of the party had not succeeded. The RSS has also been unable to check Advani who continues to reiterate his Jinnah remarks. There are indications of turmoil within the Sangh with the section close to Advani getting the better of his opponents.

Commenting on the new team, former Madhya Pradesh CM Uma Bharti said "they are the same people who have made the party ineffective. They can only ride on other's shoulders and are incapable of getting success on their own."

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