The BJP dropped Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan from the party's highest decision-making body, the parliamentary board, today in a shake-up of the organisation that has freshly accommodated loyalists Devendra Fadnavis and BS Yediyurappa. While some political observers find it surprising that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath did not make it despite his leadership that gave the BJP an unprecedented second term, others see in the reshuffle an effort of social engineering as well as regional representation.
A source in the BJP said no chief minister has made it to the parliamentary board this time and, therefore, Yogi's name on the list would have appeared an odd man out. Chouhan has been left out for this very reason.
Another source recounted the contributions of BS Yediyurappa (Karnataka) to the organisation, adding that Sarbananda Sonowal, K Laxman and Iqbal Singh Lalpura represent the Northeast, Telangana and Punjab respectively. Sudha Yadav and Satyanarayan Jatiya made it in the party's bid for social engineering.
While a section of the media has described the parliamentary board as the top body in the BJP, which decides on chief ministers, state chiefs and other key roles, BJP insiders say their central election committee is equally — if not more — powerful.
Sources in the party said Gadkari's services would be utilised elsewhere. Yet, his omission is making news because of not only his seniority and successful steering of the roads and transport ministry but also his status as a former BJP chief. The party has traditionally kept its former presidents in the decision-making process. Besides, Gadkari is also liked by the party's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Insiders note that Gadkari had stayed put despite the pot-shots he had frequently aimed at his own government.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, also a former BJP chief, has made a re-entry into the parliamentary board. Sources said Singh's act of being the first LK Advani loyalist to switch camps and propose Narendra Modi's name as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate in 2013 has paid off.
Yediyurappa was compelled to resign as chief minister last year due to infighting and allegations of corruption. At 77, he is way past the party's unwritten age bar of 75. Sources say the influential Lingayat politician has been unhappy for some time and the party wanted to pacify him to ensure his cooperation in the Karnataka election next year. Lingayats are a politically powerful bloc that accounts for 18% of the votes in Karnataka.
Both Sarbananda Sonowal and Devendra Fadnavis have been rewarded for obediently following the party's instructions to lead their respective states or relinquish. Sonowal made way for Himanta Biswa Sarma without any fuss after the BJP was re-elected in the state earlier this year. he has been named to the parliamentary board as well as the Central Election Committee. Fadnavis did not want to be a part of the Eknath Shinde government as deputy chief minister, but one word from party chief JP Nadda changed his decision.
The only constants in this shuffle are Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda and BL Santhosh.