Prem Shukla says he has been a BJP sympathiser all along and wants to contribute to the party’s cause
In what is being seen as a prize catch for the Bharatiya Janata Party, the party is all set to induct the executive editor of the Shiv Sena’s Hindi mouthpiece ‘Dopahar Ka Saamna’, Prem Shukla, into its fold.
Prem Shukla sees a bright political future for himself in the BJP
Shukla (46) quit the Sena mouthpiece on Thursday as his talks with the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s leadership proved successful. When he met party President Amit Shah in Delhi on Tuesday, he was given the final clearance. Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis had already given a go-ahead to the proposal.
Since Shukla isn’t a Shiv Sena member, the BJP’s ruling partner would have no official reason to complain about the journalist’s new role. He has been an employee of the mouthpiece which the late Bal Thackeray had launched after its Marathi version became immensely popular in Sena-dominated areas like Mumbai and Central Maharashtra.
Shukla had not sought any official position in the Sena despite the fact that his predecessor in Dopahar ka Saamna, Sanjay Nirupam (now a Congress leader), was made a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha). However, of late, Shukla had not been happy with the state of affairs that concerned his employment, said a person close to him.
Shukla put the record straight while confirming his decision on Thursday.
“I see a bright political future for the BJP. And I, being a long-time sympathiser of the BJP, always thought of contributing to the BJP’s cause. The time has come to formally join active politics,” Shukla told mid-day.
Sources said that the BJP had asked Shukla whether he would contest the Lok Sabha polls from Mumbai North-Central segment in 2014. “However, he wasn’t mentally prepared then. And there were many other factors that stopped him from taking the plunge into active politics,” said a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity.
Shukla is likely to be inducted formally into the BJP anytime soon. He is likely to get a position equivalent to national secretary, and he may also double up as national spokesperson. The BJP will utilise Shukla’s services in Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh, where he has firm roots.
According to people, who are aware of what went behind the curtains, Shukla is seen as an asset because of his oratory skills, firm views on Hindutva ideology, and strong networking in Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh.
“During television debates, Shukla has been putting across views that strongly support the BJP’s ideology. Shukla had advocated Narendra Modi’s PM candidature and views as convincingly as possible whenever he got an opportunity. His expressions were all the more important and remarkable, because the Sena leadership had been spitting venom against Modi. The BJP has taken note of it,” said another BJP leader.