Modi begins march to 2014 LS election

BJP chief Rajnath Singh on Sunday announced his much awaited team, re-inducting Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi into the party’s highest decision making body, the parliamentary board, and elevating Mr Modi’s close aide, former state minister Amit Shah, as national general secretary.
Mr Modi’s elevation is being viewed as a step forward in bringing him to the forefront keeping in view the 2014 general election. Mr Modi is the only serving CM of the party to be included in the parliamentary board by the BJP chief. Mr Shah is out on bail in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. There is a growing clamour within the party to project Mr Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the Lok Sabha polls. The team will play a crucial role in strategising for the state Assembly polls as well as general election. Mr Singh has tried to strike a balance keeping in mind regional, youth, caste as well as RSS interests.
Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi, recently acquitted of charges of making hate speeches in the 2009 general election, has also been elevated to national general secretary while saffron sanyasin and former Madhya Pradesh CM Uma Bharti has been made a national vice-president.
Mr Modi returns to the party’s top body after six years. He was removed from the board by Mr Singh during his previous tenure as BJP chief. Mr Modi has also been included in the BJP’s central election committee, headed by Mr Singh. Speculation is rife that Mr Modi will head the party’s overall campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
BJP ally JD(U), whose leader, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, does not share a good rapport with Mr Modi, reacted cautiously to Gujarat CM’s elevation, saying it was an “internal matter” of its ally, but insisted that the PM candidate “should have secular credentials”.
Mr Singh’s new team has 12 vice-presidents, 10 general secretaries, 15 secretaries and seven spokespersons, besides a 12-member central parliamentary board, a 19-member central election committee and a five-member central disciplinary committee. Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, whose name was also doing the rounds for the parliamentary board, described the new team as “balanced and dynamic”. Mr Singh met Mr L.K. Advani on Sunday morning before announcing his team.
However, senior leaders Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh have not been included in the team. Both had publicly opposed former party chief Nitin Gadkari being given a second term, which was cleared by the RSS. These two senior leaders are part of the party’s national executive. Among those dropped included Najma Heptulla, Hema Malini and Shanta Kumar as vice-presidents and Vasundhara Raje as general secretary.
Actor-turned-politician Smriti Irani, a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat and considered close to Mr Modi, has been promoted to vice-president. Another close associate of Mr Modi, state minister Nitin Patel, has been made a national executive member.
Former Karnataka CM D.V. Sadananda Gowda has been given the post of vice-president while Rajiv Pratap Rudy has been elevated to general secretary.
Keeping in mind the coming assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Durg MP Saroj Pandey has been made BJP Mahila Morcha chief while Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur continues as Yuva Morcha chief in the new team.
While Prakash Javadekar, Shahnawaz Hussain and Nirmala Sitharaman continue as national spokespersons, the new spokespersons of the party are Vijay Sonkar Shashtri, Sudhanshu Trivedi, considered close to the BJP chief, Meenakshi Lekhi and Capt. Abhimanyu.
Senior leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, the BJP’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, has been dropped as the party’s chief spokesperson. Poonam Mahajan, daughter of late party leader Pramod Mahajan, has been made a secretary while former Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla is also a new inclusion and has been made a vice-president. S.S. Ahluwalia, who was earlier the BJP’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, has been made a national vice-president.
The tribal faces in the team include Jual Urao as vice-president and Luise Marandi from Jharkhand as secretary.
The 12-member central parliamentary board, headed by Mr Singh, has former Prime Minister and party patriarch Atal Behari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Ram Lal, besides Mr Modi. These leaders, along with Gopinath Munde, Jual Oran, Shahnawaz Hussain, Vinay Katiyar, J.P. Nadda and Dr Harshwardhan, are part of the party’s central election committee. Mahila Morcha chief Saroj Pandey is an ex-officio member of this committee.
The vice-presidents also include Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, C.P. Thakur and Prabhat Jha while the other general secretaries are Ananth Kumar, Thawar Chand Gehlot, J.P. Nadda, Dharmendra Pradhan, Tapir Gao, Murlidhar Rao and Ram Lal, who will continue as general secretary (organisation).
V. Satish and Soudan Singh are joint general secretaries (organisation). Among the party’s national secretaries are Shyam Jaju, Bhupendra Yadav, Krishan Das, Trivendra Rawat and Aarti Mehra.
While Sanjay Paswan will head the BJP SC Morcha and Faggan Singh Kulaste the ST Morcha, Abdul Rashid will head the Minority Morcha and Om Prakash Dhankar will lead the party’s Kisan Morcha. Rajya Sabha MP Piyush Goyal will continue as treasurer and O.P. Kohli as headquarters in-charge. The party’s central disciplinary committee has Radha Mohan Singh as president, Jagdish Mukhi as secretary and L. Ganesahn, Hari Babu and Shyam Nandan Singh as members.
“The rejig was done by the new party president keeping in mind the general election in 2014. The party will announce the prime ministerial candidate when the time comes,” BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said.

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