There are conflicting views about the recent organisational reshuffle in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Some party insiders believe the changes have an imprint of the party’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. But still, others maintain it is an attempt by party president Amit Shah to demonstrate his inclusive approach. For instance, the appointment of Gujarat leader Gordhan Zadaphia as in-charge of the party in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh raised many eyebrows. Shah was not known to be fond of Zadaphia, a one-time critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had also left the party briefly. Similarly, the decision to entrust the responsibility of Punjab and Chandigarh to captain Abhimanyu was also a surprise. It was only a few years earlier that Shah had overlooked Mr Abhimanyu’s claims to the chief minister’s post in Haryana and picked Manohar Lal Khattar instead. The induction of Union home minister Rajanth Singh’s loyalist Sudhanshu Trivedi (to look after Rajasthan along with Union minister Prakash Javadekar) led BJP insiders to believe that Shah is broad-basing the organisation ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. In the process, the BJP president ’s favourites Bhupendra Yadav and Anil Jain have been downgraded. Mr Yadav has been given charge of Bihar but he may find himself out on a limb as it is senior state leader Sushil Modi who calls the shots there. Mr Jain, on the other hand, has been given the unenviable task of reviving the state unit in Chhattisgarh, where the BJP was virtually decimated in the recent Assembly polls.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vasundhara Raje may have lost power in the recent Rajasthan Assembly election but the defeat has not put her down in any way. She looked cheerful and relaxed when she stopped by at Central Hall in the Parliament House last week. Despite persistent questioning, Ms Raje did not reveal if she would take on the job of leader of the Opposition or would prefer to head the BJP’s state unit. Her standard response was that, for the present, she wanted to enjoy the new year holiday season with her family. She also intends to get on to the treadmill, having tucked into half-a-wheel of her favourite Brie cheese and a French-style baguette that morning.
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayum Singh Yadav was known to be a hard bargainer but his son, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Singh Yadav, has completely surrendered to Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati. Ever since the two leaders decided to put aside their rivalry and have an alliance in the coming Lok Sabha polls, Yadav junior has made it amply clear that Ms Mayawati is the senior partner and that he was more than willing to defer to her wishes. It transpires that the present Samajwadi Party chief does not take any decision without consulting Ms Mayawati. Mr Yadav’s capitulation to the BSP chief has not gone down well with his own cadre, who believe he will end up undermining his own party in his eagerness to please Mayawati.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Bogibeel bridge in Assam last week, the party’s state chief Ranjeet Dass was conspicuous by his absence at the various events organised during his visit. According to the capital’s political grapevine, Modi’s office had conveyed to the organisers that it would be desirable if Mr Dass was kept away from the stage. The reason: Mr Modi had heard that Mr Dass had become controversial and that his name had cropped up in a financial controversy.
Ironically, the Prime Minister had no qualms about being seen in the company of Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, whose name has figured in a financial scam. But, as it is well known, Mr Sarma has been a BJP favourite ever since he left the Congress and took a vow to see that his old party is wiped out in the Northeast. Having delivered on his promise, Mr Sarma is now a virtual insider, who is given prompt audience by party president Amit Shah at short notice while the RSS is also said to have taken a shine to him....