BJP Rejigs National executive Farm law critic Birender, Rao Inderjit who ‘challenged’ Yadav dropped

Birender Singh has been extending support to the farmers agitating against the farm laws and was seen sharing stage with opposition leaders during an event organised by Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala

The BJP on Thursday constituted a new national executive committee with 80 members, dropping at least two prominent leaders from Haryana – former Union minister Chaudhary Birender Singh who has remained critical of the new farm laws, and Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh who was being seen as challenging another Union Minister, Bhupender Yadav, who has now been included in the top decision-making body.

Birender Singh has been extending support to the farmers agitating against the farm laws and was seen sharing stage with opposition leaders during an event organised by Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala. Recently, calling the Lakhimpur Kheri incident as “shameful”, Birender Singh had stated that “it should not be taken lightly” as it was “not spontaneous, and there are facts which hint at it being a planned act”. He went on to say that he saw two angles to the Lakhimpur incident as Uttar Pradesh was in poll mode and “there is competition between politicians to take benefit of it”.

Sources say Birender Singh’s open and continuous support to the farmers may have played a role in his exclusion from the national executive. Birender Singh, whose son Brijendra Singh is a BJP MP from Hisar, had sat on a dharna in support of the agitating farmers on December 18 last year — less than a month after the farmers had started camping at the borders of Delhi against three contentious farm laws.

Insisting the farmers’ agitation has now become “everybody’s agitation”, then Birender Singh had stated: “I stand by them (agitators). This is everybody’s agitation now. It’s not limited to a section of society. I am already in (battle) field and have made up my mind already. If I am not in frontline, then the people will feel that I am just doing politics, nothing else.”

Ever since then, he has been voicing in support of the agitators.

Rao Inderjit Singh too has been excluded from the list with Yadav being included in the top decision-making body of the saffron party from Haryana quota. Yadav had undertaken a Jan Ashirward Yatra yatra in south Haryana recently which had given an impression to the supporters of Rao Inderjit Singh that the BJP is projecting former as a parallel leader to him in the Ahirwal belt. Later, Rao too organised a rally in Jhajjar on the occasion of ‘Shaheedi Diwas Samaroh’ which was seen as a show of strength by him in which as many as six BJP MLAs including two state ministers considered close to him had made efforts to make the event successful. In the samaroh, sending a clear message to his opponents and detractors who he claimed were writing obituaries of his political career, Rao had stated he will continue to fight elections and had no plans of retiring soon. He had also made a case for continuing a dialogue with agitating farmers saying in Haryana, BJP and its leaders are now confined to a small pocket in “our area (Ahirwal)”.

Both Birender Singh and Rao Inderjit Singh had joined the BJP leaving Congress ahead of the 2014 Lok elections. Insiders in the party indicate that “the latest restructuring of the executive is a clear indication to the heavyweights in the party that only those will be promoted in the organisation who are performance oriented, dedicated and committed to it and its ideology”. They also say that “nobody should be in the feeling that he or she can’t be replaced just because of their so-called stature in a particular area”.

Sirsa MP Sunita Duggal, a woman from Scheduled Caste community, and only Sikh face in Manohar Lal Khattar Cabinet, Sandeep Singh (special invitee) have been included in the national executive. Ambala MP Rattan Lal Kataria, who is from Scheduled Caste, has also been dropped from the national executive. Earlier in January this year, Kataria along with 11 others was dropped from the council of ministers during a cabinet rejig. Captain Abhimanyu has also not been included in the national executive this time.

Union Minister Krishan Pal Gurjar is the only leader from Haryana who has succeeded to retain his name in the national executive this time. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, state party president Om Prakash Dhankar and state General Secretary Ravindra Raju have been included the national executive as ex-officio members being CM and holding organisational posts for the state.

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