BJP focus on leader for results

Patna, Jan. 10: Selecting the BJP state president has never been a crucial affair for the national leadership like this year.

With an eye on the next year's Lok Sabha polls, the party think tank wants someone who would not antagonise Nitish Kumar as well as try to keep the alliance in its present shape. "The high command is conscious of the fact that Bihar, under the NDA rule at present, must have a leader at the helm who could steer the party to retain its 2009 tally or better it," a BJP insider said. The BJP has 12 MPs against the JD(U)'s 20 elected in 2009. The JD(U)-BJP, which had contested the 2009 polls in alliance, had altogether 32 MPs of the total 40 from Bihar.

The incumbent, C.P. Thakur, MLA from Benipatti, Vinod Narayan Jha and three others are learnt to have thrown their hat in the ring of the state BJP president's race at a meeting called by party chief Nitin Gadkari's Teen Murti Lane home in New Delhi today. Those attending the meeting included deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, party general secretary and in-charge of Bihar affairs, Dharmendra Pradhan, state NDA convener and road construction minister Nandkishore Yadav, health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey, animal husbandry and fish resource minister Giriraj Singh, labour minister Janardan Singh Segriwal besides MLC Mangal Pandey.

Sources said a section of "hardliners", including Giriraj and Chiraiya MLA Awanish Kumar who themselves believed to be in the race for the new state president. Their argument is: "The party must have young and energetic face to call the bluff of Nitish and lead it to the elections without giving too much importance even if the alliance breaks or survives."

But the "hardline" section is still learnt to be in "minority" with Modi and Yadav rooting for "sober and alliance-friendly face" for the post.

Thakur, despite his "embarrassing and vague" stands, at times, is leant to fit the bill with alliance-friendly leadership. Jha is also known for his "conciliatory" approach and is believed to be under "consideration" for the top party post in the state.

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