Amit Shah, now the Union Home Minister, may continue as BJP president until the organisation elections in the party are over, sources in the BJP said. The election process in the BJP, the schedule for which will be finalised at a meeting of office-bearers on Thursday, is expected to be concluded by December.
Shah will meet the BJP’s national office-bearers, state chiefs and states’ in-charge leaders on Thursday, when the party will set in motion the process for organisational polls that may culminate in the election of his successor. Shah will hold another meeting of his general secretaries on June 18.
There has been speculation that the BJP Parliamentary Board, the apex decision-making body of the party, could appoint a new president or working president. But at least three senior party leaders contacted by The Indian Express rejected the possibility. One general secretary indicated that the possibility of a working president to oversee the internal elections cannot be ruled out.
In its national executive meeting held in September 2018 in the national capital, the party had deferred its internal elections until the Lok Sabha elections were over. This, in effect, extended Shah’s term, which was to end in January.
Shah had taken over as BJP president from Rajnath Singh in July 2014 when the latter joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet. Shah’s appointment, replacing Singh who had 18 months left in his term, indicated that the party wanted to stick to its convention of one man for one post. In January 2016, Shah was elected BJP president unopposed for a full three-year term.
The BJP’s constitution allows a person two full three-year terms consecutively as party president. So, there is room for Shah to continue as president for another term.
After he along with Modi led the BJP to a thumping victory with 303 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, Shah moved into the government as Home Minister. The exclusion of J P Nadda, a parliamentary board member and senior minister in the first Modi government, had triggered speculation that he could be Shah’s successor. Nadda was in-charge of Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 elections, and the party performed impressively in the state, confining the much-hyped Mahagathbandhan to 15 seats.
Party sources said the election calendar would be finalised at Thursday’s meeting in the national capital. The process will begin with a fresh membership drive and there will be elections at the mandal, district and state levels. When 50 per cent of the states elect new office-bearers, national-level election could be conducted. The party is expected to conclude the internal election process in every state, except the poll-bound ones of Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana, before December.
BJP leaders pointed out that the party has the option of choosing a working president by its parliamentary board and can get his or her election ratified by the National Council in six months. This working president could oversee the internal election process. “But it is not necessary. The election process can be conducted with the current leadership also,” said a party leader.
According to the leader, Shah would be monitoring the party’s campaign and electioneering for Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana. On Sunday, he held separate meetings with key party leaders in these states to discuss the BJP’s strategy for the Assembly polls due later this year.