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BJP begins Amit Shah's successor hunt with membership drive

Shivraj Singh Chouhan made chief of panel on membership drive that will last around a fortnight.

Updated: Jun 14, 2019, 10.33 AM IST
Shah has constituted a committee to oversee the fresh membership drive that will last for around a fortnight.
NEW DELHI: The BJP has begun the process of electing its new president with the incumbent, Amit Shah, holding a meeting with national office-bearers, state unit presidents and general secretaries (organisation) to discuss a fresh membership drive –– the first step towards electing the state unit officials, who then form the electoral college that chooses the party head.

Shah has constituted a committee to oversee the fresh membership drive that will last for around a fortnight. National vice-president Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been appointed the committee’s convenor.

The panel will have four co-convenors –– Dushyant Gautam, Suresh Pujari, Arun Chaturvedi and Shoba Surendran. While Gautam is a former head of the BJP SC Morcha, Pujari is a national secretary who has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Bargarh in Odisha. Chaturvedi is a former Rajasthan BJP unit chief who served as a minister in the last Vasundhara Raje government. S urendran is from BJP’s Kerala unit.Shah has set a target of adding 20% more members to the party that boasts of a total membership of around 11 crore. The focus will also be on increasing BJP’s strength in the South where the party is weak.


As per BJP convention, the process of electing a new national president begins with a membership drive, followed by elections from the booth and block level up. These units then choose the district chief and district representatives to the BJP state council.

The council members elect the BJP state chief. Once this process has been completed in over 50% of the states across the country, the new national president can be elected. Usually states where Assembly elections are due are exempted as a change of guard will affect the party’s poll preparations and prospects due to possible dissension. Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana are not likely to go through this process.

The BJP Constitution states that the electoral college that will elect the national president comprises members of the national council –– that has 2,000-2,500 members –– and the state councils. The national council has around 10% of the total BJP MPs as well and they are chosen by the sitting party parliamentarians. A similar exercise is undertaken in the state units for the state councils. Each state council and the national council should have a minimum of 10 MLAs and MPs respectively. All party lawmakers are included where the number falls below 10.

Though the BJP constitution lays down this elaborate process, the new president is chosen as per the wishes of the party brass. “We strive to build a consensus over a name both in the state councils and the national councils,” a BJP office-bearer said.On some occasions in the past, the candidate has been changed hours before the result was announced as was seen in the case of Nitin Gadkari. He was replaced by Rajnath Singh on the eve of getting a second consecutive term in 2012. Not surprising then that BJP chiefs are elected unopposed as the final nomination papers are filed by only one candidate. Former Health Minister and BJP Parliamentary Board secretary JP Nadda continues to be the front runner for the top post.

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