In 2014, the newly-elected Modi government had indicated that BJP leaders above the age of 75 would not be given any administrative post in central or state governments.
While there is no written rule in the BJP constitution, it is a policy that the party has followed, albeit with several exceptions.
In 2019, as the exclusion of veteran leaders such as L K Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi made waves ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Amit Shah had explained that this was a decision taken by the party. "No one above 75 has been given tickets. This is the party's decision," Shah had reportedly said in an interview to The Week.
But it would seem that to every rule, there are some exceptions. Not to mention, there are some who contend that there is no such rule in the first place. Former Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade, for example, had contended in 2019 that anyone working efficiently should be allowed to contest. There is no rule in the BJP's constitution that bars people above the age of 75 from contesting polls, he had said. He later went on to win the Phulambri Assembly seat.
But while some have resigned from their posts on reaching the age of 75, others have been inducted or appointed later. After all, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa is close to turning 78, having assumed office in 2019.
Now, it would seem that the ruling party is willing to accommodate others who are far older. Technocrat E Sreedharan, who is known in Kerala and beyond as the 'Metroman', is slated to join the party this week. His upcoming entry is being seen as a big win for the BJP, with many contending that Sreedharan would be able to take on the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) that has governed alternately for decades.
While he has not officially joined the poll foray, it appears to be a matter of time. In a recent interaction with news agency PTI, the 88-year-old had indicated that he would be contesting the assembly elections if the party wants and would also be open to chief ministership.
And while it is far too early to debate in absolutes, it is likely that Sreedharan would become one of the exceptions to the 'age rule'. Celebrated as one of the architects behind the Konkan Railway and the Metro infrastructure in Delhi and other states, Sreedharan has a massive following that cuts across party lines.