BJP on revamp mode, shuffles Jaitley from Punjab to Uttar Pradesh

New Delhi, May 29 | Updated: May 30 2007, 05:30am hrs
In a major overhaul of the party management in the states, BJP president Rajnath Singh on Thursday removed senior leader Arun Jaitley as the in-charge of Punjab, and shifted him to Uttar Pradesh. The party president gave Bihars charge to Kalraj Mishra.

The move, signalling the never ending intra-party wrangling within the BJP, also saw senior leader Vijay Kumar Malhotrawho presided over BJPs spectacular win in the municipal elections recently in Delhibeing replaced by Thawar Chand Gehlot.

Barring Gujarat, where Rajnath Singh decided against disturbing the current setup and retaining Om Mathur as the in-charge, his stamp of authority was apparent in most other states. In the election-bound states of Himachal Pradesh and Chattisgarh, Rajnath gave the charge to low profile leaders with relatively lesser cloutan indirect signal that he would be in control and manage affairs through them.

The shunning of Jaitley, however, overshadowed the changes, making it obvious that the differences were only widening between the two leaders in the party. As the in-charge of Punjab, Jaitley had earned the admiration of partymen after he helped the party win 19 out of 21 seats in the February Assembly polls. Rajnath even replaced media convener Siddharth Nath Singh, considered to be close to Jaitley, with senior party leader M Venkaiah Naidus trusted lieutenant Nalin Kohli. The only exception was Gopinath Munde, who has been handed over Rajasthan, probably to keep a leash on dissidence in the state.

Chhattisgarh has been put under the young MP from Orissa, Dharmendra Pradhan. Himachal Pradesh has been given to Satpal Jain, who till now, had no stature in the party. Singh also shifted party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad from Uttarakhand to Tamil Nadu as he gave Haryana to secretary Vijay Goel, replacing party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Naqvi, seen as close to former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, got overall charge of the partys election management and coordination.

Singh, however, retained party general secretary Ananth Kumar as prabhari of Madhya Pradesh while appointing senior party leader Yashwant Sinha as in-charge of Karnataka. The BJP president appointed MP Sumitra Mahajan as in-charge of the partys women wing and MP Najma Heptullah as in-charge of the minority morcha.