The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday announced the long-awaited list of its national office-bearers as the party effected a major reshuffle in key organisational positions, gave the team a more pan-
India look and brought in new faces, including some seen to be strongly associated with its core ideology.
The highlights of the new list are replacement of several general secretaries, including Ram Madhav, P Muralidhar Rao and Anil Jain, with new faces, appointment of Tejasvi Surya, an articulate and fiery advocate of the Hindutva plank, as the party's youth wing president, and giving place to West Bengal leader Mukul Roy, and Vinod Tawade and Pankaja Munde of Maharashtra in the team.
Roy has been made a vice president, and the two Maharashtra leaders secretaries. There had been reports that all three of them were miffed with their respective state leadership.
Surya replaces Poonam Mahajan.
Uma Bharti has been dropped as vice president along with MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Prabhat Jha, Om Prakash Mathur and Shyam Jaju among others, while Saroj Pandey has been dropped as general secretary.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the new team of office-bearers and expressed confidence that they will uphold the "glorious tradition" of the party of serving the people of India selflessly and with dedication.
"Congratulations and best wishes to the new team. I am confident they will uphold the glorious tradition of our party of serving the people of India selflessly and with dedication. May they work hard to empower the poor and marginalised," he tweeted.
There are five new general secretaries among the total eight: Dalit leader Dushyant Kumar Gautam, D Purandareshwari of Andhra Pradesh, C T Ravi of Karnataka, Tarun Chugh of Punjab, a state where the BJP's ties with ally Akali Dal have nosedived over farm bills, and Dilip Saikia from Assam.
Bhupender Yadav, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Arun Singh have retained their position as general secretaries, who occupy a critical position in the organisation as they are often put in charge of states and serve as a link between the regional and central leaderships.
Sources said the BJP leadership has chosen to go with leaders who are fit for their role and are seen to be reflective of the party's ideology.
They said those who have been dropped should not be naturally judged negatively, adding that any new list of office bearers is bound to have a high proportion of fresh faces, something the party's constitution also advocates.
However, some may have been dropped for reasons like their wont to make comments which have repeatedly irked the leadership and non-performers, they added.
A party leader said the new team is more diverse, youthful and representative of the BJP's newfound strength in southern India and the Northeast.
The party has also increased the number of its national spokespersons to 23, while elevating MP Anil Baluni as the chief spokesperson and keeping him as its national media head. The new spokespersons include former minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Rajiv Chandrashekhar, Tom Vadakkan, and young Dalit leader Guru Prakash.
Amit Malviya remains in charge of the party's IT wing.
The new list of spokespersons is more representative of social, caste, regional and religious diversity, a source noted.
However, the party has not filled vacancies in its parliamentary board, its highest decision-making body. Some vacancies in other positions also remain.
There is a view that Modi may also go for a Cabinet reshuffle in some time. Though there is no official word on this.
The number of women in the national office bearers list has risen to 13 from eight earlier.
The BJP also named Rajesh Agarwal as its new treasurer and brought in new faces as heads of its different morchas, with K Laxman, Rajkumar Chahar, Lal Singh Arya, Samir Oraon and Jamal Siddiqui made president of OBC, SC, ST and minority morcha respectively.
It has, however, not announced the head of its women's wing.