Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan were dropped from the BJP’s top decision-making body on Wednesday in a shake-up in which BS Yediyurappa and Devendra Fadnavis landed coveted spots.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who led the BJP to an unprecedented second term in the state, is a glaring exclusion after buzz that he would be rewarded with a place among the party’s decision-makers.
The BJP’s rejigged parliamentary board, with six new faces including the first Sikh representative, signals a generational and political shift in the highest tiers of the BJP in the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah era.
The omission of former BJP chief and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari is the biggest shocker in this revamp. Till now, the party had always kept its former presidents in the decision-making process. Mr Gadkari, considered close to the party’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), frequently got away with potshots aimed at his own government.
At a recent event in Nagpur, Mr Gadkari was quoted as saying that present-day politics was more about powerplay, and that at times he thought of quitting politics.
The other big Maharashtra BJP leader, Devendra Fadnavis, has made it to the election committee. For Mr Fadnavis, it is a morale-booster after he was forced to accept a downgrade to Deputy Chief Minister when the BJP came to power in Maharashtra along with Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister for 20 years, has also been dropped from the parliamentary board. With him gone, there is no chief minister on the board.
Mr Yediyurappa’s inclusion reflects the party’s efforts to win over the powerful Lingayat leader after he was forced to resign as Chief Minister last year. At 77, he is way past the party’s unwritten age bar of 75. The BJP, however, needs Mr Yediyurappa’s cooperation in the Karnataka election next year; the Lingayats account for 18 per cent of the votes in Karnataka.
Former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who agreed to make way for Himanta Biswa Sarma after the BJP was re-elected in the state earlier this year, is on the parliamentary board as well.
The only constants in this shuffle are PM Modi, Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda and the party’s BL Santhosh. Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, also a former BJP chief, has made a reentry into the parliamentary board.