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RSS order on generational change keeps BJP veterans out

May 26, 2014 16:51 IST

Last week, the RSS informed BJP president Rajnath Singh and other leaders that all leaders above 75 should not be given any “pad” (position), meaning just not Cabinet position but even as chairman of the National Democratic Alliance or as Lok Sabha Speaker. That put to rest claims by old and veteran leaders like L K Advani, M M Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Karia Munda, reports Sheela Bhatt.

The most-awaited list of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s Cabinet portfolios is not out yet but sources in Gujarat Bhavan, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party claim that the entire exercise was made easy by the RSS issuing a diktat that the BJP should go in for a generational change in Cabinet formation.

The final mix is a fine balancing act among Modi, the BJP and RSS.

Last week, the RSS informed the party president Rajnath Singh and other leaders that all leaders above 75 should not be given any “pad” (position), meaning just not Cabinet position but even as chairman of the National Democratic Alliance or as Lok Sabha Speaker.

That put to rest claims by old and veteran leaders like L K Advani, M M Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Karia Munda.

Next came the issue of giving an important post to Sushma Swaraj. It’s to the credit of the party organisation, her own standing and the RSS’s sense of fair play that Modi’s most vocal opponent inside the party forum will get the post of external affairs minister. After all, she was Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha for full five years.

Some may point out that in view of this she deserved better, but given Modi’s personality she has been treated fairly. Sushma will look great in world capitals with her sindoor, sari, bangles and a firm but smiling countenance. Of course, she is also articulate and can speak with great conviction.

Arun Jaitley was the obvious choice as finance minister in view of his standing in Modi’s new world, his own experience in the party and the Vajpayee government, and his connections with the corporate world and otherwise. Modi’s long-time friend, Jaitley has lately teamed up with Amit Shah, the new emerging power within the party.

Modi will lead and Rajnath, Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah are likely to be the foursome who will run the government. Sushma has been given foreign affairs that would keep her out of not just party politics but she will also not have much to do with the actual running of the government, which will suit Modi.

The rest of the pack will have a tough time dealing with Modi who is going to induct some 40 advisors from all walks of life to supervise these ministers.

The RSS had a preference for some people but insiders say that it’s only Modi who has distributed the portfolios. Modi had an aversion for overtly corrupt leaders.

Image: BJP president Rajnath Singh.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi