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Why ‘Santhosh man’ Arun Kumar was removed from Karnataka in BJP shake-up ahead of polls

Arun Kumar repatriated to RSS, allegedly after complaints that he remained under the shadow of B.L. Santhosh. Reshuffle sees new appointments for other poll-bound states too.

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New Delhi: BJP president J.P. Nadda has repatriated Karnataka BJP general secretary (organisation) Arun Kumar to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), allegedly after complaints that he was meddling in the party’s affairs and not helping it grow in the southern state, ThePrint has learnt.

Kumar is seen as a key aide of BJP national general secretary B.L. Santhosh.

In other key organisational appointments in state units, Nadda has deputed Ajay Jamwal, party general secretary (organisation) and in-charge northeast, to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Karnataka, MP and Chhattisgarh all go to the polls in 2023, the latter two in the later part of the year.

While party national joint general secretary Shiv Prakash has been shifted from Bhopal to Mumbai, general secretary (organisation) Satish Dhond will be heading from Goa to West Bengal with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

But the biggest shock was Kumar being replaced by Rajesh G.V., who was made the new state BJP general secretary (organisation). Kumar held the charge for the last six years, reportedly against the wishes of senior leader B.S. Yediyurappa.

In May, Santhosh hinted that the Karnataka set-up would see drastic changes in view of next year’s state election.

Yediyurappa is said to have wanted another RSS pracharak, Ravi Kumar, in the post but Santhosh had remained firm on his decision to prop up Kumar in 2016.

“(But) Kumar couldn’t establish an independent identity, and remained under the shadow of Santhosh. He used to listen only to what Santhosh ji told him to do. He never gave an independent and neutral view to the central leadership about state affairs during Yediyurappa’s time,” a Karnataka BJP MP told ThePrint.

“The high command has taken the decision to start afresh (in Karnataka) … The high command didn’t want a similar situation to emerge in the state, and so a new relatively young person was deputed.”

A BJP functionary claimed that Kumar was not effective in handling the organisation in the state.

“The role of the general secretary is to achieve the targets fixed to expand the party’s footprint, resolve disputes among leaders, give honest feedback, but he was doing nothing.

“The new appointee (Rajesh G.V.) is one of the youngest general secretaries. He is good at organisational work,” the insider added.

Asked about the reshuffle, BJP spokesperson R.P. Singh said it was a “regular and routine transfer”. “The party takes decisions keeping in view many factors,” he added.


Also Read: Yediyurappa & son holiday in Dubai, skip first BJP state exec meeting since Bommai became CM


The Mumbai plan

Shiv Prakash is headed for Mumbai to guide the party’s affairs in Maharashtra, where the BJP formed the government with the Eknath Shinde-led faction of the Shiv Sena this month.

The BJP had won 23 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra in 2019. Prakash will have to ensure the tally is not disturbed in the next general election, especially given that its former ally, the Shiv Sena, is a divided house now.

“Prakash was shifted as he has been in charge of many states. As Maharashtra is crucial, he will have to spend more time in the state and keep a tab on organisational affairs,” another BJP leader said, adding that the Sangh leader was “not like other politically ambitious organisational leaders”.

The first party functionary quoted above said Jamwal was drafted to Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh as they needed a leader who could “galvanise” organisatlonal set-ups in the two states ahead of the assembly elections.

“Hitanand Sharma, the organising general secretary for Madhya Pradesh, is relatively young… The local body poll results have raised questions on our preparation in the state. Chhattisgarh is also a worrisome state for the party right now,” the party functionary said.

On his part, Jamwal told ThePrint that the party sent him to the poll-bound states after considering the organisational requirements there. “There is not much challenge in the northeast as of now. The party needs more focus in expanding its footprint in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,” he said.

In Bengal, the BJP faces the twin challenges of protecting its 17 Lok Sabha seats as well as boosting the morale of demoralised party workers after the 2021 performance and the ensuing violence in the state. A series of exits — Mukul Roy, Arjun Singh, Babul Supriyo —makes the assignment more challenging for Dhond.

“The party chose Sukanta Kumar Majumdar, a young state president, to give a free hand to senior leader Suvendu Adhikari and to avoid confrontation as seen during the tenure of Dilip Ghosh,” the second BJP leader quoted above said. “But Majumdar lacks organisational capability. Dhond’s new responsibility means the party wants to strengthen the party set-up in the state.”

(Edited by Tony Rai)


Also Read: BJP’s top decision-making body dysfunctional as Modi-Shah call the shots, no move to induct Yogi yet


 

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