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BJP Top Brass Meet to Discuss Counting Preparations Amidst Buzz Nitish Kumar may be on Way Out

BJP Top Brass Meet to Discuss Counting Preparations Amidst Buzz Nitish Kumar may be on Way Out

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 3: With almost all the exit polls predicting a massive victory for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Lok Sabha elections, the top brass of the BJP, its major partner, held a high-level review meeting on Monday on the eve of the counting of votes on Tuesday.

The meeting held at the residence of the party president JP Nadda, was attended among others by the union home minister Amit Shah, the defence minister Rajnath Singh, commerce minister Piyush Goyal, former Haryana Chief Minister M.L. Khattar and others.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, BJP’s National General Secretary Vinod Tawde briefed on the issues taken up for discussion in the meeting. “When the counting starts tomorrow, counting agents are supposed to be present in all booths. If there is any doubt about counting anywhere, party officials must give special attention to it. All such things were discussed during the meeting,” he added.

“BJP president J.P. Nadda presided over a meeting where senior Ministers like Rajnath Singh-ji, Amit Shah-ji were present, as well as other Ministers and some [party] general secretaries. It was largely about a review over how voting went on across the seven phases, and also reviewing preparations for counting as well,” Mr Tawde said.

The review for counting day, Mr Tawde said, was over the deployment of booth and counting agents, as well as having BJP office-bearers at hand where counting could give rise to doubts. Sources said details of all BJP candidates were sought, and State unit presidents across the country were also called up to take inputs.

“There are States like West Bengal where we apprehend intimidation by TMC (Trinamool Congress) cadre, and we have to prepare our office-bearers to deal with it,” a senior BJP leader said. Asked if the meeting discussed preparations for celebrations of the anticipated victory, Mr Tawde said no such discussion took place at Monday’s meeting. “We will frame the celebrations as the results are declared,” he said.

A BJP delegation led by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had called on the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Sunday and raised concerns over repeated attempts by a “certain section” that is trying to “undermine” the integrity of India’s electoral process. They had urged the ECI to take a few steps to ensure the safety and security of the electoral process and be fully conversant with the minutest details of the prescribed process.

Amidst the meeting of the top brass of the BJP, the unscheduled visit to Delhi by the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and meeting the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given rise to speculations of a possible change of leadership in the state after the Lok Sabha election results.

While Mr Kumar’s meeting with Mr Modi was said to be a courtesy call, sources did not rule out the sealing of ministerial berths for Janata Dal-United (JD-U) MPs in any future NDA government. While Mr Kumar was expected to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah as well, but the two did not meet in person but spoke on the phone before Mr Kumar left New Delhi for Patna.

“There is no truth in these conjectures about the CM’s visit…he has met the PM and is likely to meet Union home minister Amit Shah. There are other alliance related issues that may have come up at the meeting, but there is no question of a change in the state’s leadership,” said a JDU functionary. The leader said the CM was in the Capital for a routine medical check-up.

The explanation notwithstanding, there is speculation that the BJP may get to occupy the CM’s seat in the state if the results favour the party. “There is a buzz in the state that in the event of the BJP winning all 17 seats that it is contesting, and the JDU not doing well, then a change in leadership may be in the offing,” said BJP leader in Bihar. The leader, however, asserted that it was “speculation” and not “discussed formally or informally within the party unit.”

There is also speculation that the BJP will appoint an Other Backward Class (OBC) face as the CM and let its ally, the JDU, pick an upper caste for the deputy CM’s post to consolidate its position among the OBCs, the Economically Backward Classes (EBCs) and the upper caste ahead of the assembly polls.




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