Friday, Jul 12, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
Addressing his first press conference after taking over as party president from Jana Krishnamurthi on July 1, Mr. Naidu said: ``Atal Behari Vajpayee is the tallest leader of the country, of the National Democratic Alliance and the BJP. He is also the leader of (Deputy Prime Minister) L.K. Advani.''
The clear signal was that there was no power struggle in the party and that Mr. Advani was not about to edge out the Prime Minister. But the `Advani stamp' was all over the new list of office-bearers and Mr. Advani has been present at almost all the key discussions before the list was finalised.
The one-time key party ideologue, Govindacharya, known to be close to Mr. Advani, stands banished. After he was dropped as general secretary of the party presumably he went on study leave he continued to be a member of the national executive committee, but this time his name does not even figure in the revamped 72-member executive committee, nor is he one of the 23 special invitees to the committee. It is known that Mr. Vajpayee is ``allergic'' to Mr. Govindacharya.
In the five key positions of general secretary are now positioned the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Rajnath Singh, the former Union Law Minister, Arun Jaitley, a former minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and the former Delhi Mayor, Anita Arya. The only general secretary from the outgoing team to be retained in that post was Sanjay Joshi, an RSS `pracharak' who had been sent to the party headquarters here when Mr. Narendra Modi was made the Gujarat Chief Minister.
Mr. Jaitley will be the party spokesperson, along with Mr. Sunil Shastri (who was also a general secretary in the outgoing team) and Mr. Naqvi. Mr. Shastri and Ms. Maya Singh (who was also general secretary in the outgoing team) have been retained in the national executive committee which has also been revamped.
It seems that special care has been taken to have representatives on the central team from states going to polls over the next one year. Mr. Naidu's team of 20 includes four women as against the solitary Maya Singh in the outgoing team. Scheduled castes and tribes and the backward castes have also been adequately represented.
Two vice-presidents have been retained, Kailashpati Mishra and Gopinath Munde (former deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra), while Pyarelal Khandelwal, former general secretary has been made vice-president. Others in this category are Dilipsingh Bhuria (Madhya Pradesh), Harshvardhan (Delhi) and Karuna Shukla (Chattisgarh). Former vice-president, Ramdas Aggarwal (Rajasthan) has been appointed treasurer of the party.
Lalita Kumaramangalam (sister of former Cabinet Minister, P.R. Kumaramangalam) figures among the seven secretaries, as does Shiv Singh Chauhan, the BJP's youth morcha chief, a job now entrusted to an old time Naidu loyalist, G Krishna Reddy.
Mr Naidu repeated what several party presidents before him have said the party must become an effective link between the Government and the people, it must spread the message of the good work done by the Government and it must become the ``first choice'' political party of the people.
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