Rajnath Singh elected BJP President
Rajnath Singh was Wednesday unanimously elected the new president
of Bharatiya Janata Party, succeeding Nitin Gadkari who decided
against a second term till he was cleared of alleged corruption
Does Rajnath Singh, a physics lecturer-turned-politician now in
his second innings as the BJP president, carry the magical potion
for his party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls?
After the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister emerged as the
consensus candidate for the top BJP post following the exit of
Nitin Gadkari, party leaders here feel that the wily Thakur from
Chandauli has a tough task cut out for him.
"There is no doubt that Rajnath-ji has kept his image intact in
times of graft and corruption. But then, he also has to prove that
he has a pan-India acceptance," a former ministerial colleague of
Rajnath Singh told IANS.
Other colleagues also feel that Rajnath Singh needs to move ahead
for a wider acceptability since he is, for now, "more of a
Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpayi, however, differs and
says Rajnath Singh's unanimous election as the BJP national
president for a second time showed he was a national leader.
"Rajnath Singh-ji has a proven record. He is a leader who has a
close contact with party workers and supporters," Bajpayi said.
Senior party leader Kalraj Mishra also praised Rajnath Singh and
said the BJP would benefit immensely from his elevation.
Rajnath Singh became the Uttar Pradesh BJP chief in 1997 and later
served as the state's chief minister from 2000-2002.
So, while his election has brought the state back on the BJP
radar, his track record shows he has a lot to prove in his home
Under him, not only was the BJP routed in the assembly polls but
it also fared badly in the Lok Sabha polls.
His open hostility to party colleague Kalyan Singh also sparked
trouble for the BJP, which in its hey days, used to send more than
50 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
This time, however, Kalyan Sngh said Rajnath Singh was "actively
and seriously involved in rehabilitation of the party in UP".
"He is a national leader with his feet firmly on the ground. I'm
sure that under him, the BJP will get 50 (Lok Sabha) seats from
UP," Kalyan Singh told IANS.
With just two wins in his four-decade-long political career that
started with the Jan Sangh, Rajnath Singh, many within the party
feel, has an uphill task of making himself "electorally viable".
He has won just two elections -- one a by-poll for the Haidergarh
assembly seat in Barabanki when he was elected the chief minister
and second when he won the Ghaziabad parliamentary seat in 2009.
This time, however, owing to large-scale dissent in his
constituency, he is likely to contest from another seat.
Old timers, however, recall Rajnath Singh's rapport with the media
and say that despite his exit from Lucknow a decade back, he has
kept "his touch intact".
"He knows how to handle the media and gives a personal touch,"
said Rajiv Ranjan Jha, a senior journalist here.
"He is friends with leaders across party lines and we all here are
sure that with his guidance, we will fulfill his dreams of winning
50 (Lok Sabha) seats in Uttar Pradesh" Vijay Bahadur Pathak, state
spokesman of the BJP, said.
Though introduction of his elder son Pankaj Singh as a BJP
office-bearer met with stiff resistance, leaders feel that given
the fact that Rajnath Singh's new innings will go on till 2015 and
include the crucial Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi assembly
polls and the Lok Sabha polls, he might be off to a bigger role,
including emerging as a consensus leader in the National
Democratic Alliance for the prime minister's post.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com)