Nadda’s ‘old wine in new bottle’ but faith reposed in turncoats Jay Panda, Purandareswari

New Delhi: As an extraordinary case of faith reposed in former Karnataka Minister, C T Ravi has been made BJP in-charge for three tough states Maharashtra, Goa and poll-bound Tamil Nadu.

In the work allocation for the new team of party office bearers, BJP chief J P Nadda shows keenness to bank on turncoats from other parties and also try a few new tricks.

The BJP president’s Team has a few surprises. NTR’s daughter Daggubati Purandareswari, a former Congress leader, has been given responsibilities of two key, comparatively big and opposition-ruled states of Chhatisgarh and Odisha.

In a major reshuffle in the list of national office bearers in September, Nadda had dropped prominent general secretaries Ram Madhav, P Muralidhar Rao, Saroj Pandey and Anil Jain.

Rao has been, however, made in charge for Madhya Pradesh now along with Pankaja Munde and Bisweswar Tunde as co-in charges.
Radha Mohan Singh, who was Agriculture Minister under Prime Minister Narendra Modi between 2014 and May 2019, has been made in-charge of the country’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls in March 2022.

BJP I-T cell chief Amit Malviya has been made the co-in charge of another poll-bound state of West Bengal. The state-in charge would be Kailash Vijayvargiya and former RSS-man Arvind Menon will be another co-in charge. Both Vijayvargiya and Menon were holding the same responsibilities under Amit Shah and hence Team Nadda is essentially ‘change with continuity’.

Malviya’s elevation as co-in charge in Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal shows the Lotus party in its ambitious journey for power in summer of 2021 would involve lot many IT-related and social media related campaign in the eastern state. Notaby and it goes without stating that issues like CAA and ‘Muslim appeasement’ would figure prominently.

Of course, the critics of Nadda could dismiss the new Team and work allocation as the ‘same old wine in new bottle’. But essentially, the office bearers and the responsibilities given show a clear stamp of Amit Shah and Prime Minister Modi himself.

Radha Mohan Singh being given Uttar Pradesh responsibility shows former Agriculture Minister and the Bihar leader continues to enjoy Modi’s confidence.
Nadda’s decision to give key responsibilities to Bhupender Yadav is not at all surprising. Amit Shah had always shown immense faith in Yadav’s style of functioning and the senior party general secretary has so far delivered without courting controversies or making enemies in the party.

Bhupender Yadav gets in-charge of Bihar and Gujarat, which goes to the polls in December 2022; while Arun Singh will be BJP high command’s eyes and ears in Rajasthan and Karnataka.

In Rajasthan, the party will be keen to capture power as they did in Madhya Pradesh while in Karnataka, there is need for tightrope walking as the saffron outfit may sooner than later replace veteran B S Yeddyurappa as the Chief Minister.

C T Ravi, former Karnataka minister and the national general secretary, has been given the task of running party affairs in Goa, Maharashtra, and the poll-bound Tamil Nadu. Ravi has already started work in Tamil Nadu. Ravi is said to have
played a key role in bringing in actress Khusbu Sundar from the Congress camp to the saffron party.

Among the new faces in the party and also as national office bearer, Nadda has reposed faith in former BJD lawmaker-turned-BJP leader Baijayant Jay Panda and has made him the in charge of Assam and Delhi.

Like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, the northeastern state of Assam also goes to the polls by April-May 2021 and here too the challenge to retain power for the saffron party is multifold. In Delhi, the saffron party has the onerous task of taking all corrective steps as it suffered two humiliating defeats against the AAP in 2015 and 2020.

How much difference can an Odisha man make in Delhi remains to be seen.

Among other northeastern states, the responsibility for Nagaland has been given to national spokesman Nalin Kohli while his colleague Sambit Patra will be responsible for the show in Manipur. This is rare for spokespersons to be given responsibilities (or made Prabharis) for states. Earlier such responsibilities were given to general secretaries or vice presidents.

Meanwhile from Nagaland, party’s newly appointed Vice President Chuba Ao has been made in-charge of Meghalaya while party spokesman M Kikon has been made in charge of Mizoram. BJP national general secretary Dilip Saikia from Assam has been made in-charge of Arunachal Pradesh.

The experiment with northeastern leaders – Chuba Ao and Kikon – for two Christian majority strongholds Meghalaya and Mizoram – is an innovative move. Skepticism still remains whether the Lotus party can make deeper penetration in these states. Longback, a Mizoram Chief Minister had said Lotus cannot bloom in the rocks of Mizoram and thus despite best efforts the saffron party is still to make big in Mizoram and Meghalaya.

Of course in Meghalaya, the BJP shares power as a junior partner in the NPP-led ministry headed by Conrad Sangma.

About the Author:

Nirendra Dev is senior Journalist. He is a longtime northeast watcher and author of books including ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’ and ‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’.