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Three lesser-known faces in Nadda’s team and why they made it?

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New Delhi, Sep 27, 2020-

Much has been said about high-profile leaders like Uma Bharti or Ram Madhav who have been dropped from their key posts in the BJP organisation as per the new list of office-bearers, while the inclusion of younger leaders like Tejasvi Surya or D. Purandeswari has also been widely analysed.

But, away from the media glare are three lesser-known names in the new team of party chief J.P. Nadda, who have made their journey from near obscurity to recognition.

Dilip Saikia, Assam

The first name that stands out in the new list for climbing the organisational ladder without being media-friendly or nationally-known is Dilip Saikia from Assam. While the top leaders are aware of his track record, if he walks into 6 Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg tomorrow, chances are many most cadres won’t even recognise him.

Saikia began with the RSS’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, before getting involved with the RSS itself and later, joined the BJP. The 47-year-old MP from Assam has been made a General Secretary – one of the most crucial posts in BJP’s scheme of things that needs a hands on approach and regular interaction with the party President. Saikia is the first-ever BJP activist from Assam to rise to the post.

From student politics to the party’s youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, and finally being elected last year as an MP, Saikia played a crucial role in Assam politics in spite of presence of bigwigs like Sarbanada Sonowal, Ranjit Das or Himanta Biswa Sarma. He quietly kept on working in the organisation, something that made him a right fit for the job, say sources in Assam BJP.

Anupam Hazra, West Bengal

Hazra is young, well-read and a street fighter – a rare amalgamation of qualities in Bengal’s polity. While he is known in Bengal for his stint in the Trinamool Congress, he is not the kind of politician that attracts media attention or creates a social media buzz.

He is known for his allegiance to Mukul Roy, in both the Trinamool and now in BJP. After Roy’s exit from Mamata Banerjee’s party, he kept in touch with him. Last year in March, he, along with Congress’s Dulal Chandra and CPI-M’s Khagen Murmu, joined the saffron fold.

Hazra has been made a national Secretary, replacing Rahul Sinha which sparked off a possible rebellion by the latter.

Why did Hazra make the cut if he is not as charismatic as Babul Supriyo or a mass leader like Dilip Ghosh? Firstly, his proximity to Mukul Roy, who too was elevated, played a key role. Secondly, through him, the BJP wants to attack Anubrata Mandal, a Trinamool muscle-man who was the reason for Hazra’s disenchantment with the party in the first place.

A.P. Abdullakutty, Kerala

Abdullakutty’s induction in the new BJP team not only surprised the party’s Kerala unit but also others in the state.

Beginning his political career with the CPI-M’s student wing, he achieved prominence by defeating present Kerala Congress chief and former Union Minister Mullapally Ramachandran twice – in 1999 and 2004 – from the Kannur Lok Sabha constituency.

Though active in Kerala politics, he was never a big name to be considered. In UPA-2, when talk of then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s possible candidature as NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate started, he praised Modi and the Gujarat development model, leading to his expulsion from the Left party.

After switching to Congress, he was sidelined after his loss from Thalassery in 2016. Disenchanted with the Congress and thrown out of the Left, Abdullakutty last year joined the party that has least prominence in Kerala but is led by the man who he once praised and rose to become Prime Minister twice.

Within a year’s time, he was brought in the BJP’s national scheme of things, being made Vice President, where he will be company of veteran party leaders and former Chief Ministers like Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh.

While many would like to believe his praise for Modi has played a role in selection, BJP sources say it was a case of calculated move where his minority background is expected to be politically helpful for BJP in the southern state where it is trying hard to expand.

There are also other lesser-known leaders in Nadda’s new team who have now been given a chance to prove themselves, like Guru Prakash, an Assistant Professor of Law in Patna University and a champion of the Dalit cause, who has been made a national spokesperson. Another person who has been given a chance to prove himself as spokesperson is Iqbal Singh Lalpura, who hails from Punjab where long-time ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal, has parted ways. (Agency)

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