Even as the Ministers in the new NDA government took charge Tuesday, the BJP has begun to set in motion the process of re-jigging its organization nationwide and, simultaneously, reviewing its Lok Sabha performance.

This exercise is expected to begin with a fresh membership drive and will conclude with the election of a new party president. It is still not clear if this will take place under a new working president or incumbent JP Nadda who has been inducted in the Modi government as Union Health Minister.

The party’s Parliamentary Board, its apex decision-making body, will meet soon to decide. That meeting comes in the wake of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s unusually sharp comments Monday on the bitter Lok Sabha campaign that included a cautionary note too.

“A true sevak maintains decorum while working… The one who maintains decorum does his work, but remains unattached. There is no arrogance that I did this. Only such a person has the right to be called a sevak,” Bhagwat had said.

Sources said these remarks, seen as a veiled criticism of the BJP leadership, are neither “routine nor normal.” Said a source: “This kind of public expression means there is a problem in communication between the Sangh and the party. Bhagwatji rarely criticizes BJP leaders publicly.”

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“The message on Manipur was clear that the Sangh is not in consonance with what is happening and how (the crisis) is being handled,” said the source. But added: “This does not mean that communication between RSS and BJP has collapsed…just that it’s not how it should be.”

Addressing RSS leaders and workers at Nagpur, Bhagwat flagged the crisis in Manipur. “Everywhere there is social disharmony. This is not good,” Bhagwat said. “For the past one year, Manipur has been awaiting peace. It was peaceful for the past one decade. It appeared that the gun culture of yore was gone. But the gun culture that took shape suddenly, or was created, Manipur is still burning. Who is going to pay attention to it? It is a duty to deal with it on priority.”

A section of BJP leaders are of the view that Bhagwat’s remarks could have an echo among those “disgruntled” and “unhappy” after the election results that left the party short of a majority in the Lok Sabha. “Since the comments have come from Bhagwatji, many expect the top leadership to take it seriously,” said another party leader from central India.

The BJP has faced setbacks in its strongholds in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar and Maharashtra. In West Bengal, too, the party suffered losses in areas it had consolidated over the last few years. Sources said the Sangh’s feedback on a number of candidates, including some in Uttar Pradesh, was not taken “seriously” while finalizing the list.

Asked about Bhagwat’s comments, a top leader of the BJP said: “We will consider what was said.”

Indeed, sources said, the poll review process may also include discussions on how the central leadership factored in – or didn’t – the feedback it got from state leaders and the Sangh machinery on candidates and the campaign.

Modi on Monday made it clear in his portfolio allocation that there is no major change in the government. The changes in the party’s organization, however, could reflect “the new political situation” in the party, sources said.

Although Nadda’s extended tenure ends June 30, a recent amendment in the BJP’s constitution has empowered the Parliamentary Board to take a call related to a president, including their term, in “emergency” situations. Sources said the Board can extend Nadda’s tenure until the election process for his replacement is complete. “But it’s a call that should be taken by the top leadership,” said a party leader.

Nadda took charge of the BJP as working president when Amit Shah, BJP’s president during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, moved to the government, and he was elected as the full-fledged president in January 2020.

The precedent opens up the possibility of appointing a working president, more so as a full-time leader may be needed to steer the upcoming membership drive and elections in its organizational units, be it districts or states.

With many of the party’s senior and experienced leaders being inducted in the current government, sources said, the field for candidates for party president has “narrowed.” Names doing the rounds include Maharashtra leaders Vinod Tawde, Devendra Fadnavis; Senior BJP leaders Om Mathur, K Laxman, Sunil Bansal and Anurag Thakur.