Home / Politics / Policy /  New-look BJP drops Advani, Joshi from parliamentary board

New Delhi: A generational change was formalized on Tuesday by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after it dropped three veterans, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, from the party’s highest decision-making body.

Instead, it inducted two new faces: Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and party general secretary J.P. Nadda.

The change has been on the cards ever since Amit Shah, a close confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took over as the party president.

The rejig is consistent with the BJP’s strategy of creating a new rung of talent which reflects the young demography of the country—more than 65% of India’s population is below 35 years of age.

The BJP’s strategy in the April-May general elections, where it won a thumping majority, was to appeal to this younger demography. Given the proximity between Shah and Modi, the rejig ensures that both the party and the government will be on the same page, ensuring closer political coordination.

On Tuesday, all three veterans—Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi—who have served as party presidents in the past are now included in its five-member Marg Darshak Mandal, a mentors panel that also includes Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh.

The 12-member parliamentary body, which is chaired by Shah, now includes Chauhan and Nadda and retains older names like Modi, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari and Ananth Kumar, among others.

“The decision should be seen as a move to complete the generational change that had started in the party with the appointment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the chief of the election campaign committee," said a BJP leader, who declined to be named.

“It is still not clear how often will the Marg Darshak Mandal meet or what suggestions it would be able to give," said another BJP leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another party leader said that the move also signifies there was a need to infuse fresh blood in the party. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)—the ideological parent of the BJP—was keen to give bigger responsibility to younger leaders of the party and it has finally been able to achieve it.

RSS leaders are keen that leaders above 75 years should not get involved in the day-to-day working of the party; instead they should be able to guide the party. BJP is the only affiliated organization of RSS where a generational change was yet to happen.

The RSS, along with some of the BJP leaders, were keen that both Advani and Joshi do not contest the Lok Sabha elections and should become part of the Rajya Sabha. However, the two leaders rejected the offer. The 15-member central election committee (CEC) of the party was also reorganized by dropping Vinay Katiyar from Uttar Pradesh and inducting tribal face of the party, Jual Oram.

Tuesday’s revamp comes close on the heels of Shah unveiling a new BJP team earlier this month. He appointed four new party presidents for the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Assam.

Experts concurred that a generational shift was underway.

“From the party’s perspective, these leaders have age and experience on their side but they have lost the pulse with the party as well as the people. The decision making of the party seems to be freshly shifting to a new group of people who are powerful in the party," said A.K. Verma, a Kanpur-based political analyst.

The Marg Darshak Mandal was more of a “face-saving mechanism" so no one could point a finger on the revamp, he said. “Such a reorganization would be appreciated because it seems to be done with a rationale without really disconnecting these senior leaders from the party," Verma added.

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