Amit Shah is likely to head the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its next president, according to the developments which took place in the party on Wednesday.
If the blue-eyed boy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is made the president of BJP, then his main task will be to bring the party to power in three states - Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand, where Assembly elections are due in the near future.
Shah is currently a national general secretary of BJP. Shah is seen as the main strategist behind the victory of BJP and its ally Apna Dal in the Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh. BJP-Apna Dal combine won 73 out of 80 seats in UP. The landslide victory was a key factor for Modi to lead the party and emerge as the single largest party in the elections.
The current president of BJP is Rajnath Singh, who is the Union Minister of Home Affairs. Sticking to the party's principle of "one-man one-post", Singh had recently announced that he would quit the president's post to continue as minister. Hence, BJP is to appoint a new leader to the president's post.
Besides Shah, the other contenders for the president's post are: JP Nadda and Om Prakash Mathur. Both leaders are also BJP's general secretaries like Shah. However, Shah has the edge over the other two as he is backed by Sangh Parivar, especially the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the key ideological organisation behind BJP.
Party sources claim that a broad consensus prevails both among BJP leaders and RSS patriarchs on Shah's name for the post. The decision to appoint Shah as BJP president may be announced before 30 June.
Singh said on Wednesday that organisational discussions were on to appoint the next president. The decision to appoint the party president should not be delayed further as Assembly elections are due in the three aforementioned states, advocates the party cadre.
Singh was to hold a key meeting at the party headquarters in Delhi on Wednesday to discuss several changes, including the appointment of the new president. However, the meeting was postponed due to the Rajdhani Express mishap in Bihar, where four passengers were killed.
"Assembly elections are due in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand and the party feels the decision on next president should not be delayed any further. Shah would lead from the front in these elections. He has already proved his organisational acumen in Uttar Pradesh during the Lok Sabha polls," The Economic Times quoted a BJP leader.
Though the names of both Nadda and Mathur were in the reckoning initially, Shah's position in BJP became strong after the party's victory in Uttar Pradesh.
However, there are impediments for Shah's elevation as party president. Shah faces cases in the Tulsi Prajapati and Sohrabuddin encounter cases. The cases were filed against Shah when he was the Minister of State for Home in Gujarat, when Modi was the Chief Minister.
While some in BJP argue that these issues may work against Shah, others in the party and RSS tick off the argument and insist the cases are no more any issues.