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BJP’s top guns Vajpayee, Advani, Joshi out of Parliamentary Board; accomodated in new ‘Margdarshak Mandal’


New Delhi (26th August, 2014): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made its grand transition official: party veterans Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi will no longer be part of its highest decision making body.

On Tuesday, the BJP announced that the trio that has occupied the top rung of its leadership since the formation of the party in 1980, has been dropped from its Parliamentary Board.

However, in an apparent attempt to placate the veterans and escape accusations of treating the party old guard shabbily, BJP president Amit Shah has formed a new committee, the Margdarshak Mandal or group of mentors.

This body has Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and Shah as its members, apart from the three seniors.

However, the powers of the committee — which is not a part of the BJP’s constitution — is not yet clear. According to a BJP leader, the committee will merely be an advisory board that will not be part of any decisionmaking.

Vajpayee has been unwell, and not been active in politics for several years. Advani, a former party president, fell out of favour with the new leadership after trying, unsuccessfully, to stall Modi’s rise in the party by opposing the move to declare him its prime ministerial candidate last year.

Joshi, also a former BJP chief, has never hidden his disapproval of Modi’s leadership.

The BJP’s spectacular victory in the April-May elections greatly diminished Advani’s relevance in the party. Signals of his slide were strong and frequent: he was denied the post of Speaker, not allowed to occupy the seat next to the Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha, and his nameplate was removed from his office in Parliament House.

But party leaders said both Advani and Joshi had been consulted before the new Parliamentary Board was set up.

“They will show the way,” party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said. He declined to comment on who would chair the Margdarshak Mandal, or on the role it would play.

Shah has inducted three-time Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and party general secretary J P Nadda as new members in the 12-member committee. The induction of Chouhan, and the retention of Ananth Kumar, both of whom are considered close to Advani, came on the instructions of the party veteran, a BJP leader said.

The 12-member Parliamentary Board chaired by Shah now has Modi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar, Thawarchand Gehlot, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Jagat Prakash Nadda and Ramlal as its members.

Shah has also reshuffled the Central Election Committee, from which he has dropped the senior leader from Uttar Pradesh, Vinay Katiyar. The CEC has the 12 members of the Parliamentary Board, besides the BJP Mahila Morcha president Vijaya Rahatkar, tribal leader Jual Oram, and former minister Shahnawaz Hussain.


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