In a major shake-up, the BJP on Wednesday dropped Union Minister and former party president Nitin Gadkari and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from its parliamentary board, the apex organisational body, and brought in six new members, including former Karnataka CM B S Yediyurappa and Punjab leader Iqbal Singh Lalpura.
The party also rejigged its Central Election Committee (CEC) and named Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Bhupender Yadav among its new members. Gadkari and Chouhan ceased to be CEC members after their ouster from the board.
All parliamentary board members, which include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh and BJP president J P Nadda, automatically become part of the CEC, which has some additional members as well.
The omission of Gadkari and Chouhan marks their diminishing stock within the party which has tried to make its key organisational bodies more socially and regionally representative by bringing in members of different communities, including the first Sikh in Lalpura, currently the chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, in the board.
Former Union ministers –Jual Oram Shahnawaz Hussain– and former BJP ‘Mahila Morcha’ chief Vijaya Rahatkar have been dropped from the CEC. After these changes, the board now has the full strength of 11 members while the CEC has 15 leaders.
The other new board members are K Laxman, Sudha Sadav and Satyanarayan Jatiya while the new entrants to the CEC are Rajasthan leader Om Mathur and BJP women wing chief Vanathi Srinivasan besides Fadnavis and Bhupender Yadav.
This is the first time the board has been rejigged under Nadda, who took over as the party president in 2020. The board had several vacancies caused by the death of Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj while Venkaiah Naidu and Thaawarchand Gehlot had to leave it after becoming Vice President and state governor respectively.
When Shah was the party president, veteran leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were eased out of the crucial party body in 2014 and made members of ‘Margdarshak Mandal’, as the party on Modi’s watch worked to make the organisation and government more youthful.
Among the new board members, Sudha Yadav and Laxman are from the Other Backward Classes while former Union minister Jatia is from the Scheduled Castes. Sonowal is tribal.
Yediyurappa’s inclusion highlights the party’s efforts to reward the Lingayat leader whose community is critical to its poll prospects in the Karnataka assembly election slated for the next year.
Party sources said the exercise shows how the party “rewards” old workers and values their experience.
Yediyurappa, Jatia and Laxman have given their lives to the party, building it brick by brick from the start, they said.
“There is also an emphasis on diversity. Sonowal is from the Northeast, Laxman and Yediyurappa hail from the South. In Lalpura, there is a Sikh representing minorities,” a leader said.
He described Sudha Yadav as a self-made political leader whose husband was martyred in Kargil.