Under RSS pressure, is BJP heading for major organisational changes?

Niraj Sharma
New Update
JP Nadda and BL Santosh

JP Nadda and BL Santosh

New Delhi: After a less-than-adequate performance in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to undergo major organisational changes over the next few weeks.

It is understood that the role of three top leaders including BJP chief JP Nadda, and the saffron unit’s two powerful National General Secretaries, BL Santhosh and Sunil Bansal, is being relooked.

Sources stated that the performance of the BJP leadership is likely to be reviewed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the saffron unit, over the next few weeks.

Nadda, who is already on an extension, is expected to be moved out of the organization and is likely to be replaced by a leader who is more acceptable to the Sangh. 

The step comes days after the BJP chief had courted controversy and upset the top leadership of the RSS after he had made certain unwarranted remarks during the peak electoral campaign on the BJP’s need for Sangh’s cadre in campaigning and support.

During an interview in the electoral heat of the general elections, Nadda had said, “We were less capable in the beginning and needed the RSS. Today we have grown and are more capable. The BJP now runs itself.” 

The comments by the BJP chief were not taken kindly by the Sangh leadership. RSS had been instrumental in creating the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1951 and later the BJP in 1980.

The Sangh’s anger over these comments is believed to be one of the crucial factors that led to the inadequate showing of saffron candidates during the recently concluded polls as its cadres were found to be absent during crucial campaign days.

In another major move, the role of BJP’s National General Secretary (Organization), BL Santhosh, is also likely to be reviewed by the Sangh.

The position is considered one of the most important posts in the party. And, the incumbent is responsible for better coordination between the party and its ideological parent the RSS, to discuss and finalise strategy on political and election issues. 

The person holding this post is loaned from RSS for effective supervision of the organisational tasks and can be repatriated to the Sangh.

Santhosh was promoted at the national level with an eye on the expansion of the BJP in South India. 

In mid-2019, Santhosh was moved to the position of National General Secretary (Organisation) in the place of Ramlal.

However, the Sangh is seemingly not happy with the way that Santhosh was non-receptive to the ideas and suggestions put forth by the RSS leadership for improvement in BJP’s electoral campaign. 

It was felt that Santhosh was primarily serving the cause of the party, instead of focusing on the ideology and promotion of Sangh’s strategic interests, sources said. 

New role for Sunil Bansal?

Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the posting of Sunil Bansal as National General Secretary had created a buzz. 

Bansal, a known close confidante to former BJP chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah saw an expanded role and was given the charge of West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana as the party’s National General Secretary.

Interestingly, the BJP has done very well in two of these three states, even securing the Odisha Assembly for the saffron unit for the first time. The BJP is expected to promote him and give him more important tasks as it tries to consolidate during Modi 3.0.  

Earlier, Bansal had played a crucial and successful role in getting the party repeated victories in the important state of Uttar Pradesh in both Assembly (2017 and 2022) and Lok Sabha polls in 2019.

Though the BJP may have been able to cobble up the numbers to secure a third consecutive term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it will be crucial for the party to ensure that its coordination with RSS remains in top-notch condition. 

An organisational leadership which is in sync with the ideological and strategic goals of the saffron front is soon expected to take root and ensure that a repeat of recent poll outcomes is avoided.