BJP president J P Nadda on July 4 announced changes in the leadership of four State units of the party, triggering what is being seen as the start of a big recast in party’s organisation, and the Union Council of Ministers.
Babulal Marandi was appointed as the president of the Jharkhand unit of the BJP, Sunil Jakhar for Punjab and former general secretary of the BJP D Purandareswari as chief of the Andhra Pradesh unit of the party, and Union minister G Kishen Reddy as the Telangana unit president.
Through the day, several Union ministers, including earth sciences minister Kiren Rijiju, his successor in the law ministry Arjun Ram Meghwal and minister of state for health S P Singh Baghel, made a beeline to Mr Nadda’s office, in the BJP’s national headquarters in New Delhi, adding a frisson to the speculations about a large scale change in both the party and the government in the coming days.
A senior office bearer in the BJP confirmed to The Hindu, that at least four more state units – Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala - will see a change in the coming days, with certain ministers being moved to party charges. Karnataka, where the BJP is yet to get over its torpor following a defeat in the recently held Assembly polls, the party is yet to appoint a leader of the opposition for the Assembly and a State unit chief since the incumbent, Lok Sabha MP Naleen Katil has completed his term.
Union minister Shobha Karandalaje is said to be the front runner for the post, as she is considered popular with party cadre, and also belongs to the Vokkaliga community, which, in the event that chief minister B S Bommai (a Lingayat) is appointed as leader of the opposition, will also balance out caste equations.
The appointments currently made are also signals on the direction the party wants to take in these respective states. In Jharkhand, the appointment of Mr Marandi, points to the BJP wanting to project the tribal leadership in its fold, the experiment of a non-tribal chief minister in Raghubar Das, not having worked out.
In Punjab, Sunil Jhakhar, belongs to the Hindu-Jat community, and is seen as someone who can appeal to communities across the board, especially in the rural belt.
In the two Telugu states, the appointments are interesting. Mr Reddy being made party chief is again a signal that the BJP wants to cement various factions of the party in order to face the Assmebly polls, and the appointment of former minister in the Bharatha Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government in Telangana, Etala Rajendra as the party’s election management chief is being done to mollify him, and the Mudiraju community of Backward Classes to which he belongs.
In Andhra Pradesh, D Purandareshwari, who does not exactly have a harmonious relationship with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu (the two are related), signals that while the BJP wants an alliance with Mr Naidu, bargaining over seat sharing will not be on his terms, with the BJP sticking its oar in.
“This is the beginning of the large scale changes, and the domino effect of these announcements will unfold as the days go by,” said a senior minister in the government.