NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced its parliamentary board for 2014 with a notable induction of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi into the party board.
Modi's inclusion into the party's parliamentary board, after six years, is seen as a major boost to his prime ministerial ambitions. Party sources said the decision to reserve a seat for Modi at the high table was made despite a section of the top leadership supporting Shivraj Singh Chouhan, CM of poll-bound MP.
Modi is the only chief minister to be on the parliamentary board, the highest decision-making body of the party. The Gujarat CM also finds a place in the party's central election committee.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, who met party's veteran L.K. Advani this morning ahead of the announcement, named former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah, Varun Gandhi, J P Nadda, Ananth Kumar, Dharmendra Pradhan, Muralidhar Rao and Rajiv Pratap Rudy as general secretaries of the party.
Actor-turned-politician Smriti Irani has been replaced by Saroj Pandey as the head of the BJP's women's wing, but has been appointed as one of the party's vice-presidents.
Besides Irani, Sadananda Gowda, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Dr C. P. Thakur, Jual Urao, S. S. Ahluwalia, Balbir Punj, Satpal Malik, Prabhat Jha, Uma Bharti, Bijyo Chakravarti Lakxmikanta Chawla and Kiran Maheshwari have also been elevated as the party's vice-presidents.
One exceptional omission was that of the senior party leader Yashwant Sinha who failed to make it to the party's board. Reports earlier indicated that Sinha could have been the first choice for the vice-president position of the party.
The RSS had earlier blocked the nomination of former finance and foreign minister and Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha as a party vice-president for publicly airing his views on past president Nitin Gadkari's second term. Gadkari was backed by the RSS.
Prakash Javadekar, Shah Nawaz Hussain, Nirmala Sitaraman, Vijay Sonkar Shashtri, Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi, Meenakshi Lekhi and Captain Abhimanyu have been made the party's spokespersons.
BJP leaders welcomed the organisational rejig.
"The rejig was done by the new party president keeping in mind the general elections of 2014. The party will announce the prime ministerial candidate when the time comes," BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said.
On stopping short of announcing a prime ministerial candidate, BJP leader Nirmala Sitaraman said: "All groups and regions have been well represented in the new team. I don't think too much need to be read into (the holding back of an announcement of the prime minister candidate)."
"All sections have been adequately represented, according to their capacity, and there is young blood too in the team," she said.
Welcoming Modi's elevation, BJP leader Giriraj Singh said: "It is good news and will infuse more power and strength into the party."
This is part of the BJP's massive overhaul as the new president puts in place his team of officebearers, carefully balancing the interests of the party with those of its ideological mentor, the RSS.
BJP's organisational changes come after the party declared that the early polls are inevitable, dismissing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assertion that the government would complete its five-year tenure. (With inputs from the Agencies)