» Election » Rajnath takes charge of BJP's fallen citadel

Rajnath takes charge of BJP's fallen citadel

By Aasha Khosa
May 22, 2009 12:12 IST
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The proverbial lull before the storm prevails in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), where campaign managers for the Lok Sabha election have vanished overnight from the scene after the party's worst-ever defeat in general elections since 1991.

The party's Ashoka Road headquarters in New Delhi looks like a fallen citadel, while its hi-tech election war room  -- called L K Advani's election office  -- at Tugluk Crescent has been wound up. The once high-profile party spokespersons have not made any statement since May 16, the day election results were announced. Journalists and the duty-bound policemen seem to be only regular visitors to the BJP office.

Giving an indication of the brewing storm, Yashwant Sinha, a former Union minister, today called for the accountability of the party's "campaign managers". Sinha, who has reserved his Lok Sabha seat from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, in this election, said a major revamp of the BJP was on the cards.

In fact, Sinha is not alone in venting anger at his peers who were in charge of the party's election campaign. Surprisingly, everyone is openly speaking about the "need for the party to project a moderate face". The remark is a direct attack on leaders like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who enjoy the image of a hardliner, and the debutant Varun Gandhi, who is accused of sending a jarring note in the party's development-oriented campaign by speaking against Muslims in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh.

However, BJP President Rajnath Singh is likely to receive an in-house assessment of the causes for the party's electoral failure within the next three days. He has already asked the general secretaries and state party chiefs to submit state-wise reports on the recent elections.

Meanwhile, Singh's leadership has come into focus, after having lived in the shadow of L K Advani, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, and his team of favourite second-rung party leaders for all these years.

While Advani has been keeping a low profile ever since the BJP's defeat, Rajnath Singh, who has won from Ghaziabad, is seen taking charge of the crestfallen party.

While Advani has been meeting party leaders at his residence in the last two days, Rajnath Singh ordered dissolution of all the party committees set up in the wake of elections. He has also sent general secretaries Gopinath Munde and Thavar Chand Gehlot to Uttarakhand to assess the views of party leaders before ordering change of leadership in the hill state.

Rajnath Singh has received Chief Minister BC Khanduri's resignation over the party's electoral rout in the hill state. Uttarakhand is the only BJP-ruled state, where the BJP had lost all the five Lok Sabha seats.

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Aasha Khosa
Source: source