Nadda set to lead BJP — under Shah’s shadow

Liz Mathew
Nadda set to lead BJP — under Shah’s shadow

BJP working president J P Nadda with immigrants from Pakistan at the party headquarters on Saturday. (PTI)

While J P Nadda is set to take over as the national president of BJP, the development is not likely to alter Amit Shah’s stamp on the party in near future, as there seems to be not many changes in the organisation — at least the internal elections so far indicate so.

Almost all major states have retained state unit chiefs appointed during Shah’s term as party chief.

The party has reelected state chiefs in politically and ideologically crucial Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir. Sources in BJP said state presidents of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra could also be retained.

In Uttar Pradesh, OBC leader Swatantradev Singh has been repeated; Dilip Ghosh in West Bengal and Nalin Kumar Kateel in Karnataka, both considered hardliners, will continue, as will Rainder Raina in J&K. In Assam, another key state, Ranjeet Kumar Das has been reappointed state unit chief.

Explained

Naidu, too, took time

When he took over as the BJP chief at a time when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-L K Advani duo held sway over the party, it took a while for M Venkaiah Naidu to take some decisions with his “stamp” on them, party leaders say.

Sources in BJP said even changes made over the last two days were primarily Shah’s choices. While the Uttarakhand unit has Bansidhar Bhagat as its new leader, Odisha has Samir Mohanty, Meghalaya has Ernest Mawrie, and Tripura appointed Manik Saha as president of the state unit. In Arunachal Pradesh, Tapir Gao has been replaced by Biyuram Wahge. In Punjab, the party leadership refused to give a second term to Shwait Malik and opted for Ashwani Sharma.

A party leader said, “While party presidents in several key states, chosen by Shah, are retained, the new ones are also elected after consultation. Yes, one can say the choices are predominantly that of Shah.”

Nadda, party leaders say, is unlikely to take any big decision on his own for some time. A senior BJP leader said, “It will take at least six months to see how Nadda is going to play his cards. One has to wait and see whether he will try to emerge as a different power centre, or will only implement Shah’s decisions in the party. Whatever it is, the party will be under the shadow of Amit Shah.”

This leader maintained that even party cadres do not want any leader, including Nadda, to “forget that the BJP in its current might is the hard work of Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

The BJP has reached a new electoral high under Shah over the last more than five years, expanding its footprints across the country. While the party has faced electoral setbacks in some states, a leader said that does not affect its ideological growth. “Nadda will have to walk in the footsteps of Shah if he has to get continuous backing of RSS,” another BJP leader said.

Nadda is expected to be elected BJP national president formally on Monday.

As party chief, Nadda would be working closely with B L Santosh, general secretary (organisation), also a choice of Shah, who shares the image of an aggressive doer and a disciplinarian — like Shah.