BJP president J. P. Nadda on Wednesday effected a major organisational rejig of the Parliamentary Board, the highest decision-making authority in the party, and the central election committee that goes into candidate selections, a rejig that is significant more for the exclusions than inclusions.
The parliamentary board, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also a member, former BJP president and Roads and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has been dropped as was Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Mr. Gadkari's exclusion is particularly significant as he is a former president of the party, and the other two former presidents - Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh continue to be members. The exclusion of Mr. Gadkari follows after another former president, L. K. Advani was dropped from the Board.
The Board in its previous form had five vacancies due to the passing away of senior leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, and Ananth Kumar and the election of Venkaiah Naidu as Vice-President of India and Karnataka Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot being appointed to that post.
In the 11-member board, not constituted since 2014, when Home Minister Amit Shah was party president, Mr. Nadda, Prime Minister Modi, Mr. Shah, Mr. Rajnath Singh and general seceretary (organisation) B. L. Santhosh continue as before.
In the vacancies thus filled, interestingly, the addition is former Chief Minister of Karnataka B. S. Yediyurappa, whose inclusion acknowledges the fact that he is unlikely to fade into the political sunset anytime soon and is still a force to reckon with in State politics. Mr. Yediyurappa has also been made member of the election committee.
Former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has also been appointed to the parliamentary board, party sources said, in a bid to diversify the membership, as he belongs to a tribal community from Assam. The chief of the party's OBC Morcha and Rajya Sabha MP K. Laxman who belongs to Telangana is another significant inclusion.
For the first ever in the party's recent history, a Sikh member, Iqbal Singh Lalpura has been appointed to the Board, a nod to the protest movement against the farm laws (which the Union government repealed) and the political exigencies in Punjab. Other inclusions are former MP from Mahendragarh in Haryana, Sudha Yadav. Her husband, Deputy Commandant Sukhbir Singh Yadav, of the Border Security Force, had died fighting Pakistani intruders during the Kargil war, and Satyanarayana Jatiya, former MP and former Union Minister in the Vajpayee government.
In the 15-member committee, the surprise inclusion has been that of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, an acknowledgement that he needed validation at the national level, in order to offset the disappointment felt by some quarters in Maharashtra BJP over him being overlooked as Chief Minister. BJP's Mahila Morcha president, Tamil Nadu MLA Vanathi Srinivasan has also been made a member of the committee. Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav and senior party leader Om Mathur are the other two members. Former Union Ministers Jual Oram and Shahnawaz Hussain have been dropped.