Vasundhara becomes general secretary; Varun Gandhi made secretary
Women have got their place under the sun in Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari’s new team of office-bearers and an effort has been made to take forward the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat’s ‘diktat’ on the need to give the party a youthful look.
The 121-member new National Executive Committee has as many as 40 women members, nearly one-third of the total, as mandated by the party constitution amended during the tenure of the outgoing BJP president Rajnath Singh.
On the all-powerful 12-member Parliamentary Board, all former party presidents — Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh — except Bangaru Laxman find a place, as do RSS point men, general secretaries Ram Lal and Thawarchand Gehlot and Bal Apte. Ananth Kumar retains his position as secretary.
Mr. Gadkari has kept Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi out of the board, following the line taken by Rajnath Singh, who dropped him on the plea that no incumbent Chief Minister was its member. Varun Gandhi, who set off a storm of protest after his hate speech during the Lok Sabha poll campaign, has been made secretary.
Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has not been able to get his men on board with his bête noire, Ananth Kumar, ensuring that. In contrast, Prem Kumar Dhumal of Himachal Pradesh has walked off with two positions for his State: Shanta Kumar as vice-president and Jagat Prakash Nadda as general secretary, while his son Anurag Thakur is tipped to be BJP youth wing president.
For the first time as many as 12 women national office-bearers have been appointed in a list of 36 that includes 11 vice-presidents, 10 general secretaries (not counting 2 joint general secretaries) and 15 secretaries.
Vasundhara Raje is the expected star among women appointees, the only one to get the position of general secretary. Ravi Shankar Prasad gets a double promotion — as general secretary and chief spokesperson. Veterans Ananth Kumar, Thawarchand Gehlot, Ramlal and Vijay Goyal retain their positions as general secretaries.