New Team BJP: King Modi, Act I

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 31, 2013 13:30 hrs

The announcement of the new BJP team on Sunday is the first step of its Plan 2014.

Although Rajnath Singh is the BJP president and it is his team on paper, the momentum may have shifted.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is the bossman and the team will have to learn to work with him.

Modi is the only homegrown card the BJP has in the next election - all its other scoring points arise from the shortcomings and wrongdoings of the Congress.

Therefore, Modi gets his man Amit Shah as general secretary.

Shah is under trial over allegations of ordering mafia-style hits in Gujarat.

Just like it didn't bother Modi in Gujarat, Shah’s dubious reputation hasn’t come in his way in the national BJP either.

Naming Modi to the BJP parliamentary board, which is the party’s last call, completes the first part of Plan 2014.

Act II is to move Modi to Uttar Pradesh so he gets a national platform.

The plan is to pass on Atal Behari Vajpayee's mantle to Modi.

Therefore, Modi is being primed to contest from Lucknow in the next General election.

Vajpayee used to win from Lucknow and the BJP hopes Modi also will.

Lucknow is considered one of the safer seats for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP hopes that Modi moving to Lucknow will be the election story of the year.

They expect it to produce a buzz all the way to Port Blair.

If it does, then the presence of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh may be diminished.

If Act II has to work, Act I has to be done and dusted.

Thus, the composition of the new team.

While Shah is the obvious Modi representative in the BJP, other new general secretaries are likely to fall in line.

Varun Gandhi, for instance, can be as much of a hardliner as Modi.

Muralidhar Rao is an RSS member from his student days. He has always been in the Hindutva corner. He too should be fine with Modi.

Rao’s primary work area is the economy and he is a proponent of Swadeshi.

Dharmendra Pradhan is another BJP talent that has come from the ranks.

He is the brightest BJP member from Odisha and is one of the three general secretaries who retain their post.

He has no issues with the BJP’s hardline Hindutva either.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy is a bit of a moderate from Bihar. He replaces Ravi Shankar Prasad, also from Bihar, as general secretary.

JP Nadda is the second general secretary to have been retained. He is from Bihar but has settled in Himachal Pradesh.

He has long years of opposing the Nehru-Gandhis; he headed a small rightwing morcha on the Bofors case, for instance.

He too is not a problem for Modi.

Ananth Kumar retains his position as the top Karnataka leader in the BJP scheme of things.

He is third person to retain his position as general secretary.

In short, the new BJP general secretaries won’t worry Modi.

Among the vice-presidents, Smriti Irani is a simple replacement for Hema Malini. Both are actors from Mumbai although Irani might have more ambition.

Sadananda Gowda gets in to compensate for his sacking as Karnataka chief minister.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been around forever. He is a crafty player from Uttar Pradesh.

Of the other vice-presidents, only the two from Madhya Pradesh – Prabhat Jha and Uma Bharti – are of any interest.

Jha is an old RSS hand, old school and ambitious. Bharti is a mix of old school Hindutva and new school arrogance.

How their plans play out could provide some fireworks.

Some have been dropped but they have no clout to halt Modi’s growth; Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Vijay Goel are the notables axed.

Goel has issues of corruption to deal with. Some BJP seniors have apparently complained about it.

We don’t know yet how this would affect the BJP in the Delhi Assembly election due in November.

Goel was minister in Vajpayee’s PMO and is an old Delhi hand.

The real interest, though, is in the new BJP parliamentary board.

There are 12 members and they are the last stop in the BJP.

The new board has: Rajnath Singh, Vajpayee, LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Narendra Modi, Ananth Kumar, Thawarchand Gehlot, and Ramlal.

Vajpayee is ill and inactive. That leaves 11.

Three are not fans of Modi: Advani, Gadkari and Swaraj.

Ramlal represents the interests of the RSS.

Three are solid Modi supporters: Jaitley, Rajnath, and Modi himself.

That leaves three – Joshi, Naidu, and Gehlot – who will most likely bend with the wind.

Gehlot and Ramlal are the two promotions from general secretary to parliamentary board.

Here is where the next prime ministerial nominee of the BJP – if it comes to that – will be decided.

The mood of the BJP workers and the mind of the RSS have veto powers over the parliamentary board.

At the moment, both seem to see Modi as the saviour.

The new BJP office-bearers are:

Parliamentary Board: Rajnath Singh, AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Narendra Modi, Ananth Kumar, Thawarchand Gehlot, Ramlal.

General Secretaries: Amit Shah, Varun Gandhi, JP Nadda, Ananth Kumar, Dharmendra Pradhan, Muralidhar Rao, Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

Vice-presidents: Smriti Irani, Sadananda Gowda, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, CP Thakur, Jual Uram, SS Ahluwalia, Balbir Punj, Satpal Malik, Prabhat Jha, Uma Bharti, Bijoya Chakravarti, Laxmikanta Chawla, Kiran Maheshwari.

Spokespersons: Prakash Javadekar, Shahnawaz Hussain, Nirmala Sitharaman, Vijay Sonkar Shastri, Sudhanshu Trivedi, Meenakshi Lekhi, Abhimanyu.

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Vijay Simha is an independent journalist and sobriety campaigner based out of New Delhi. His most recent journalism assignment was as executive editor with The Financial World, New Delhi, and

He was a guest on Season 1 of the popular Indian TV show Satyamev Jayate, hosted by Aamir Khan.

Vijay blogs here and may be contacted at

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