Two general secretaries of BJP—Ram Madhav and P. Muralidhar Rao—are the front runners to fill the slot in BJP vacated by party veteran M. Venkaiah Naidu who is all set to become the Vice-President of India on 5 August. The two general secretaries are likely take up the responsibility of building the party’s network in not only Telugu speaking states, but also elsewhere in the country.
Sources at a senior level in the BJP told The Sunday Guardian on Saturday that one of the two general secretaries would be sent to the Rajya Sabha in the by-poll, caused by Venkaiah Naidu’s vacancy from Rajasthan. Presently, all BJP senior leaders in Telangana are huddled at Warangal for the two-day state executive meetings which are being addressed by Muralidhar Rao.
Though Ram Madhav and Muralidhar Rao are almost equal in age—around 52 years—and enjoy similar seniority in the BJP, the former is slightly ahead of them in terms of his commitments at the national level and standing in the RSS as member of its think-tank. Ram Madhav, who hails from Amalapuram in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, joined as a full-timer of the RSS in 1981.
Later, he worked in various capacities in the organisation and edited several of its magazines and publications, besides penning several books spreading its ideology. Ram Madhav was the spokesman of RSS for about a decade from 2003. He was sent to BJP to serve as a general secretary in 2014 and was made in charge of Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, besides other states.
Ram Madhav played a crucial role in the stellar performance of the BJP in Jammu in the J&K Assembly elections in 2014 and was the party’s point man in installing the PDP-BJP coalition government. Now, he is a key member of BJP president Amit Shah’s inner team and is part of many think-tank groups. Ram Madhav enjoys chances of being nominated to the Upper House so as to be made a minister later.
Muralidhar Rao, too, is an active member of the BJP top brass as he worked closely with BJP’s past presidents Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh. Muralidhar Rao was associated with RSS from a young age and was an ABVP activist on Osmania University campus from 1984 and 1986. After he was injured in a Maoist shootout in 1986, Rao was sent to Delhi to serve in RSS and ABVP.
Rao hails from a farmers’ family in Karimnagar district in Telangana, worked as the co-convener of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an RSS affiliate, under the mentorship of S. Gurumurthy for about a decade, before he was made a general secretary of BJP in 2013. Muralidhar Rao wanted to contest from Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat, but it was given to Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, who could not win and is now Maharashtra Governor.
Sources in the BJP told this newspaper that Rao is unlikely to be sent to the Rajya Sabha as he is keen to contest the Karimngar Lok Sabha seat in 2019. As Vidyasagar Rao is now Governor, there will not be any internal competition for Muralidhar Rao for the seat, they said. But, Muralidhar Rao, too, is an important teammate of Amit Shah and will play a bigger role in the days to come.