New Delhi: Amit Shah is all set to be re-elected as president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

To be sure, a formal announcement is expected only on 23 January, by which time the formal election process will be concluded.

If elected, he will have a three-year term at the helm, a period in which the BJP will be contesting key assembly elections, including Uttar Pradesh in 2017.

There is near-consensus within the party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that Shah should be re-elected to the top post, the BJP’s humiliating electoral defeats in Bihar and Delhi notwithstanding.

Senior BJP leaders also linked to the RSS indicate that it was unfair to single out Shah for these two electoral defeats, because under his leadership, the BJP had also managed an unprecedented expansion of its national footprint by forming governments in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana.

“There should be no knee-jerk reaction. Just because BJP lost in Delhi and Bihar, it cannot take away the fact that BJP won elections in several other states. It takes a lot of time and effort to build an organization and BJP’s defeat in Bihar and Delhi point towards lack of organizational strength of the party in these two states," said a senior BJP leader closely associated with the RSS.

In the course of informal discussions between the leaders of BJP and RSS, the parent organization has backed Shah for the top post.

While the national leadership has to decide the fate of Shah, BJP’s nationwide organizational elections are going on and the process has been completed in nearly 20 states.

BJP leaders point out that Shah is likely to acquire a new team for his second term. “There are many changes in the organization expected because a new team will be elected with Shah’s re-election," the BJP leader added. Shah, who took over as party president from home minister Rajnath Singh on 9 July last year, is completing the term of Singh as the BJP president. Singh was elected as party president on 23 January 2013 and had to relinquish the job after he joined the government. The tenure of a BJP president is of three years.

“Amit Shah has not been given a full term in office. He is only completing the term of Rajnath Singh who could not complete his three-year term because he joined the government. Shah should be given time to strengthen the organizational network of the BJP in states where the BJP has little presence," the BJP leader added.

During Shah’s tenure, BJP claims to have increased its membership to 10.5 crore following the biggest membership drive lasting nearly five months. However, the party’s electoral debacle in Delhi and Bihar left him vulnerable to criticism; in fact, senior leaders like L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar have questioned Shah’s leadership of the party.

“The fact that BJP has chief ministers in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana shows the contribution of Amit Shah and for the first time, BJP has a deputy chief minister in Jammu and Kashmir. Never before has any BJP president tried to make the party pan-India and pan-community acceptable," said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst.

Mrug also said that the re-election of Shah as BJP president will reassert the control of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah over the BJP.

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