BJP leadership shuffle: RSS influence and search for new party president


After the election results proved disappointing for the BJP, which lost as many as 63 Lok Sabha seats, the party is gearing up for an organisational rehaul. Starting from the very top, BJP president J. P. Nadda has been inducted into the Union Cabinet, leaving the post vacant.

The BJP and its ideological mentor, the RSS, are simultaneously going to look for a replacement for the second most powerful office-bearer in the party organisation—general secretary (organisation) BL Santosh, who has completed his two consecutive stints in the party.

Nadda was sworn in as a member of the Union Council of Ministers, in line with his predecessors—Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah—who moved from the party to the government at senior positions since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014.

In 2019, Nadda was made the BJP’s working president, and he became the full-time party president in January 2020, replacing Amit Shah, who, at that point, was appointed as the Union Home Minister. Belonging to Himachal Pradesh, his three-year term ended in January 2023, but it was extended until the Lok Sabha elections or June 2024.

Nadda, however, has still not tendered his resignation from the party’s chief post. It has to be seen whether Modi, in consultation with the top RSS functionaries, immediately appoints a substitute for Nadda or gets some leader to station as working party president before getting a full-time chief, repeating the precedence.

Modi, having failed to get to cross the majority for the BJP by 32 MPs, has retained and got the best available talent of leaders for his third tenure. Hopefuls for the BJP chief post were two former Chief Ministers, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Manohar Lal Khattar, but they have also been inducted as Union Ministers. Party functionary and Maharashtra leader Vinod Tawde’s name too is doing the rounds.

Similarly, the PM has ensured continuity of his team of ministers from his previous tenure by retaining Bhupendra Yadav, who was among the contenders when Nadda was made the party president, and Piyush Goyal in the government. Their names were circulated for the party president’s post before the swearing-in ceremony.

The top leadership may prefer to hunt for a new face, which could be from the backward castes, given that the Lok Sabha poll results hinted at the drift of the core OBC and Dalit votes away from the BJP. The new president and his team’s maiden immediate test will be assembly elections slated to be held later this year in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Haryana.

Equally important is the call that the BJP has to take about General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santosh, an RSS pracharak from Karnataka. He has completed two stints in the BJP. The unwritten rule of late RSS has implemented is not to give more than two terms to its swam sevaks on deputation to the BJP. The General Secretary (Organisation) is a powerful position in the BJP, as they come from the RSS for effectively coordinating the former with its ideological mentor.

The RSS wants the BJP to set its house in order and is also conducting an internal audit to emerge from the shadow of Modi, who has emerged as the tallest Hindutva icon.

The BJP will also accommodate some of the 16 Union Ministers who lost the elections, such as Smriti Irani, Arjun Munda, RK Singh, and Rajiv Chandrashekhar. Some of them are likely to be inducted into the party organisation. Anurag Singh Thakur, who won the Lok Sabha election from Himachal Pradesh but was dropped from the Union Cabinet, too, has to be assigned work.



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