BJP HQ turns less welcoming - ET
With Amit Shah's ascension as BJP president, the party headquarters on Delhi's 11 Ashok Road has acquired a corporate hue and turned less welcoming than ever to those without an appointment, marking a sharp shift from the times when LK Advani, Rajnath Singh or even Nitin Gadkari was at the helm.
The in-your-face security and guards brusquely warding off visitors appear to be a far cry from the casual politeness of yore. A fleet of luxury cars and sports utility vehicles parked inside coupled with frequent visits of moneybags seeking tickets and other favours completes the new look.
The change stems from the top, party functionaries and veteran workers said, requesting not to be named. Shah does not meet anyone without an appointment, barring general secretaries and select central office-bearers, they said, adding that the situation is pretty much the same in Gujarat Bhawan where he holds some meetings and meets a few people.
Journalists are only slightly better off. "You put in a request for an appointment with the party chief. After that you will get a call confirming your appointment. Only then you should come here," said a member of the support staff manning the entry points to the main building.
Shah is also perhaps the first party president whose residence in Delhi is known only to a handful of people. Old-timers recall that things were drastically different earlier.
Before he was forced to step down over his laudatory comments on Muhammad Ali Jinnah, LK Advani used to be available to the party leaders at the headquarters on most days. Although his staff was not too welcoming either, there was not much security on the premises and other leaders like K Govindacharya and JP Mathur would entertain visitors and journalists.
Rajnath Singh, despite being an NSG protectee, was more accessible during both terms as party chief and he met hangers-on and assured people that he would look into their grievances.
Nitin Gadkari, during his term as party president, ushered in corporatisation in functioning of the party as he got a plush office built with air-conditioned cabins and attached toilets.
BJP headquarter in Delhi assumes corporate hue, turns less welcoming
Known as the highways man in Maharashtra for building flyovers, he also gave the headquarters a new look by building an auditorium. However, all this construction work led to the demolition of the small rooms at the back of the headquarters which had served as the residence for many leaders who made it big later - including Room 46 that Narendra Modi occupied. Now, there are no party workers residing in the headquarter premises.
During the construction, even a small temple on the premises was unceremoniously removed as it was coming in the way of the auditorium. But Gadkari, who spent time in Nagpur and travelled extensively across the country, preferred to hold crucial meetings at his residence more than at the party headquarters. He did not get to use much of the infrastructure that he had built also because he was denied a second term over allegations of wrongdoing in Purti Group, with which he was formerly associated with. more