26 June 2002
RAJNATH TO BE NEW BJP PRESIDENT
From Jal Khambata
NEW DELHI: Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh is tipped to be the new national president of the Bhartiya Janata Party, a top party source disclosed Wednesday evening.
He may have failed to get the BJP a clear majority in Uttar Pradesh in the Assembly elections but the organisational capabilities he displayed during his tenure as the chief minister weighed on the minds of the BJP and RSS leaderships to choose him to head the party, the source said.
The top leaders of BJP and RSS, who held two rounds of consultations at the Prime Minister's residence, decided that present BJP President K Jana Krishnamurthi cannot deliver as the party needs a north-Indian who can revive the falling vote bank in the Hindi belt to ensure its victory in the next Lok Sabha elections, the source said.
He said Krishnamurthi is certainly reluctant to leave the post a year in advance as the organisational elections are due in 2003 but he has been firmly told that he cannot continue as the BJP President.
Krishnamurthi has been offered a Cabinet berth at the Centre and even told that he would get the Human Resources Development Ministry, which is one of the most important portfolios in the Government. He has been given two days to decide whether he wants to join the Government or not as in either case he has to vacate the party presidentship, the source said.
Murli Manohar Joshi, a hardliner, is presently the Human Resources Development Minister who has stood firm against all sorts of controversies erupting against his determined attempts to saffronise the education and educational and research institutions.
The offer of his post to Krishnamurthi indicates that he may be India's new Finance Minister in place of Yashwant Sinha who is tipped to be either shifted to some other ministry or included in the list of those being dropped to assign them the organisational responsibilities.
The Swadeshi lobby and other hardliners in the Sangh Parivar had been campaigning for Sinha's exit from the Finance Ministry and their favourites for the post are Joshi and Arun Shourie in that order. The majority of them wanted the post to go to Joshi as they say he had shown guts to implement the BJP line in the Human Resources Development Ministry despite stiff opposition and as such he can also deliver in a short span as the Finance Minister.
Joshi ranks third in the BJP hierarchy and also occupies the third position in the Government after Vajpayee and L K Advani, though his position in the government is denied by Vajpayee who has always tried to project Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh as No 3 in the Government.
Appointment of Joshi as the Finance Minister would make his position in the Government stronger to become No 3 by his own right since he would be needed for every decision the Government by virtue of his holding the purse. END