New Delhi: The BJP, focused on state elections and the 2024 national polls, Friday announced new party roles for leaders sacked as chief ministers and central ministers. This included new in-charges for states whose chief ministers are big movers towards Opposition unity for a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Friday’s orders by BJP chief JP Nadda say former Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani will handle Punjab and Chandigarh. Punjab, currently ruled by Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, is a big project for the BJP. It couldn’t do much in the assembly polls earlier this year — fighting on its own — as it was dumped by senior partner Akali Dal over farm laws that were scrapped after massive protests.
In Haryana, former Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb will take charge. Here, the party retained power but lost some ground in the most recent polls in 2019. The next assembly elections are due in 2024, but after the Lok Sabha contest.
As for former union ministers, Prakash Javadekar gets Kerala, where the BJP has been struggling to make a place for itself. And Mahesh Sharma gets Tripura, where the party is in power but faces polls early next year. Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, having defeated the BJP in West Bengal last year, is looking to expand into Tripura, whose majority population speaks Bengali.
In West Bengal, the BJP has made former Bihar minister Mangal Pandey the in-charge. Party IT Cell chief Amit Malviya will be a co-incharge.
Despite a defeat last year, the BJP increased its seats in the assembly. It continues to pursue an aggressive brand of politics here, particularly as Mamata Banerjee is one of the key movers towards a nationwide front against the BJP.
Mr Pandey will work with Sunil Bansal, who oversees Bengal in addition to Odisha and Telangana.
Bihar will be the responsibility of party general secretary Vinod Tawde, who earlier oversaw Haryana. The BJP here is recovering from a dumping by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who revived the JDU’s alliance with Tejashwi Yadav’s RJD and the Congress last month. He was in Delhi recently to widen the anti-BJP front.
In neighbouring Jharkhand, Laxmikant Vajpayee will be BJP in-charge. Hemant Soren’s government here has been accusing the BJP of “dirty politics” to take away MLAs from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Congress.
The BJP leadership’s trust in senior leader Om Mathur, considered Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s confidant, remains intact. After being named for the powerful Central Election Committee recently, Mr Mathur will also take charge of Chhattisgarh, one of the few states where Congress is in power. Elections are next year.
Sambit Patra, BJP’s prominent TV face, will be coordinator for the northeastern states. Party national secretary Rituraj Sinha will be joint coordinator. Among in-charges who have been retained are Arun Singh in Rajasthan and Murlidhar Rao in Madhya Pradesh. The party also shared the list, in Hindi, on Twitter. Most of the leaders given new responsibilities held no party post but have been in charge of elections before.Sources say the idea is that they will not be weighed down by party positions as they focus completely on expanding the BJP’s base and winning elections in specific states.