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The 8 women who crashed BJP's boys' club

March 16, 2015 10:39 IST

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Thursday revamped the party’s national executive.

While it was a given that top leaders of the party, including veteran L K Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Murli Manohar Joshi, will be retained in the reconstituted committee, the exit of prominent figures like Union ministers Smriti Irani and Najma Heptuallah and film-star-turned MP Hema Malini raised eyebrows.

Interestingly, the 111-member national executive now has only eight women.

Let’s take a look at who they are:

Sushma Swaraj

The external affairs minister’s inclusion in the national executive came as no surprise. A popular face of the BJP, Sushma has been a member of the party’s elite decision-making body. The 63-year-old is also considered very close to veteran leader Advani.

Maneka Gandhi

In the last couple of weeks, reports had emerged that the women and child development minister was not very happy with the Prime Minister’s Office after the latter threw spanner into the works of her ministry’s plan to set up rape crisis centres across India. However, all speculations on discord have been laid to rest with her inclusion in the national executive. Her son, Varun too has found a place in the list.

Nirmala Sitharaman

From a spokesperson to being minister of state (independent charge) for commerce & industry, Nirmala Sitharaman has seen a meteoric rise in stature within the party. Her articulate views and dignified persona could have prompted Amit Shah to include her in his team.

Aarti Mehra

A prominent Delhi BJP leader and former mayor of the city, Aarti had unsuccessfully contested the 2013 assembly election against AAP’s Somnath Bharti. In 2015, the party decided against fielding her from her Malviya Nagar constituency and instead asked to focus on party work. An elevation to the national executive could be Aarti’s big opportunity to make a comeback

Louis Marandi

Louis is the first Christian woman to have won on a BJP ticket in Jharkhand. In December last year, she emerged as a giant killer when she defeated chief minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha vice-president Hemant Soren by 5,262 votes in Dumka, regarded as one of the prestigious seats. Louis’s elevation could be seen as a move to strengthen the party’s Jharkhand unit.

Shobha Surendran

Kerala has been one state where the BJP has time and again failed to gain a foothold. Shobha’s elevation is being seen as an attempt to correct that picture before state goes to polls in 2016. Shobha has been the acting state president of BJP Mahila Morcha.

Anita Arya

Former MP and Delhi mayor Anita Arya wanted to contest from Patel Nagar, but the party inducted former Congress heavyweight Krishna Tirath for the seat. Tirath lost by a margin of over 34,000 votes. An elevation to the national executive could see her play an active role in reviving party’s fortunes in the national capital

Gauri Choudhary

A former vice-president of the Kolkata BJP unit, Gauri is one of the oldest members of the party. An observer in the Mahila Morcha, she has long been a member of the national executive and key to party chief Amit Shah’s scheme of things for the party in West Bengal.