Rajnath's team of unknowns adds numbers, not value

Officer-bearers in the new Team BJP seem to have been selected not for their intrinsic worth but for their potential to keep camp fights under wraps


Ajay Singh | April 3, 2013

BJP president Rajnath Singh
BJP president Rajnath Singh


Christophe Jaffrelot’s scholarly work on the rise of Hindu nationalism deals extensively with the role Kushabhau Thakre played in building up the organization from scratch, for the BJP as well as its predecessor, Bhartiya Jana Sangh (BJS), in Madhya Pradesh. Thakre thus was a figure more revered than Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani for BJP workers in the state.

In Advani’s team, he served as general secretary (organisation) and was elevated to the post of BJP president in 1999. As an RSS pracharak loaned to the BJS, Thakre emerged as the fulcrum around whom the BJP’s organisational structure used to revolve. But Advani’s team had four other dynamic general secretaries — KN Govindacharya, M Venkaiah Naidu, Pramod Mahajan and Sushma Swaraj — and the roles allocated to them were unambiguously defined.

If Mahajan was a fundraiser and strategist, Govindacharya was the interface with the media to put across the BJP’s socialist and amiable face in the idioms of Hindutva. Swaraj represented the face of the woman next door with a unique gift of gab, while Venkaiah Naidu was allowed to experiment in a domain till then known as infertile ground for Hindutva: south India.

By any stretch of imagination, this was the most cohesive and winning team of five general secretaries cohered by Advani with full support of the RSS. The team delivered results not only in 1996 (albeit for only 13 days), but also in 1998 and 1999.

Nearly 15 years later, BJP president Rajnath Singh has doubled the strength of general secretaries in his team. Ram Lal is the general secretary (organisation), a post held by Thakre in Advani’s time. Unlike Thakre, Ram Lal is known for all the wrong reasons among the BJP cadre, particularly those from western UP. Leave aside Ram Lal, have you heard of Thawarchand Gehlot or Tapir Gao? The new incumbents like Varun Gandhi and Amit Shah are classic cases of infamy getting legitimised in public life. Rajiv Pratap Rudy is hardly a force in his own home state, Bihar, where he lost successive elections, while Ananth Kumar represents a faction from the Karnataka BJP.

Rajnath Singh seems to have cobbled together a team with members selected primarily to appease factional groups within the Sangh parivar. Their roles remain undefined and they repose loyalty to their chieftains in the faction-ridden saffron fold. There is no denying the fact that unlike Vajpayee and Advani, Rajnath Singh has neither stature nor charisma to make office-bearers fall in line.

At the moment there is hardly a defined political goal before the party other than to keep afloat and retain the base. This is precisely what explains the induction of Uma Bharti and Prabhat Jha as vice-presidents in the BJP’s national team. Members of Singh’s team seem to have been chosen not for their intrinsic worth but for their potential to keep factional feuds under wraps.

Of course, there were indications that Rajnath Singh’s task of choosing the team was made all the more difficult by ambitious satraps within the parivar. The RSS has lost its moral authority and is divided in various camps to pursue their different political goals. For instance, Suresh Soni, the RSS joint general secretary, has managed to induct his own set of protégés in the team.

But, by and large, a team largely comprising acolytes and social climbers can hardly be called a winning team.



Other News

Yoga Day has changed perceptions about it in ten years: PM

The expanding awareness of Yoga over the past ten years has changed perceptions associated with it, prime minister Narendra Modi said in Srinagar on Friday on the occasion of the International Day of Yoga.   “Yoga is now emerging beyond limited boundaries. The world is witnessing t

Listening to tomorrow: The imperative for youth-driven data in India

Over a decade and a half ago when I was still a student, millennials felt the burning need to break down the barriers of gatekeeping in traditional media. Young voices, brimming with ideas and opinions, were often sidelined, their perspectives deemed too marginal or unrefined for mainstream discourse. This

Israel-Palestine War: Lessons from Past Peace Efforts

Israel-Palestine War: Give Peace a Chance By Dr. Joseph K. Thomas IndiePress, 243 pages, Rs 399 T

How inner work helps subvert painful narratives

Unashamed By Neha Bhat HarperCollins, 240 pages, Rs 499   * How do I connect better with my partner? *&nbs

Heatwave spikes power demand: measures taken to ensure supply

The Northern Region has been experiencing high power demand conditions due to a prevailing heat wave since May 17. Despite these challenging conditions, the highest ever peak demand of 89 GW in the Northern Region was successfully met on June 17. This achievement was made possible by import

PM to release 17th installment of PM-KISAN at Varanasi on Tuesday

Prime minister Narendra Modi will release the 17th instalment of the PM-KISAN scheme on Tuesday at Varanasi and more than 9.26 crore farmers will receive the benefits amounting to over Rs.20,000 crore. The PM will also distribute the certificates to more than 30,000 SHGs trained as Krishi Sakhis to work as

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Current Issue


Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter