Atal, Advani and Joshi formally out of BJP hierarchy

New Delhi

Not long ago, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi formed an indispensable troika for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Such was the reverence for Atalji in the party that even when he faded out of public life due to poor health, his presence was maintained in the two apex bodies — the central election committee, and the parliamentary board.

But then times have changed, and the world knows that this is the Modi-Shah era in the triumphant BJP. So, as Shah reconstituted these apex bodies in the party, this trimurti was kind of kicked upstairs and made a part of the newly set up ‘margadarshak mandal’ with Modi and Rajnath Singh to keep them company.

The fact this is more than a titular set up is indicated by Rajnath Singh’s presence, as this could be an indicator of his future role. Though a Union home minister, Singh did not have the freedom to appoint even his personal secretary.

However, none of this comes as a surprise. Modi has already laid down the age bar of 75 for positions in active politics, and has scrupulously followed this norm. Besides, it makes eminent political sense for Modi to take out Advani and Joshi from the party’s hierarchy as these are perhaps the only leaders who have the stature to voice any opinion contrary to his.

Madhya Pradesh’s three term chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has been deservedly inducted into the upper echelons, but this could also mean a movement towards the end of his tenure in the state and a role at the national level.

The fact that president Amit Shah has handpicked Chauhan’s possible successor Kailash Vijaywargia as the in-charge for the crucial Haryana elections may be a pointer in that direction. The new look parliamentary board will have Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jailtey, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Venkaiah Naidu, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Thawarchand Gehlot, Ananth Kumar, JP Nadda and Ramlal, and they are all a part of the central election committee as well. But the CEC has three more members — Jual Oraon, Shahnawaz Hussain and Vijaya Rahatkar.

The Congress reacted with sarcasm to BJP’s decision to drop its founder leaders from the Parliamentary Board, saying they have been put in an “old age home” and their ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ will only be a ‘mookdarshak’ (mute spectator).

The party also said the development marks the “process of centralisation of power,” in an apparent allusion to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress leader Rashid Alvi said tongue in cheek, “It is a mookdarshak mandal. It is like an old age home from where Advani and Joshi will witness the functioning of BJP like mutes. We were all aware that they are being sidelined,” he told reporters.

Anil Sharma

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