Gordhan Zadaphia is among 17 new state in-charges appointed by BJP president Amit Shah
Gordhan Zadaphia, a powerful Gujarat leader who was once a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made a stunning comeback to national politics today with the ruling BJP giving him charge of the party in Uttar Pradesh.
Mr Zadaphia, who quit the party and contested against it before his return in 2014, is among the 17 new state in-charges appointed by BJP president Amit Shah to prepare for the national election due by May.
The minister of state for home in Gujarat during the 2002 riots, Mr Zadaphia faced allegations of not doing enough to check the three-day communal violence in which at least 1,000, mostly Muslims, were killed.
After being dropped by then Chief Minister Modi, he became his vocal critic. In 2007, he formed his own party and contested against the BJP. Later, he joined hands with another Modi critic, Keshubhai Patel, and merged his party in the former chief minister's party.
After Pravin Togadia's exit from the VHP, 64-year-old Mr Zadaphia has been able to return to his leadership's good books.
A powerful Patel leader, Mr Zadaphia is believed to be instrumental in propping up Hardik Patel, who has emerged as a key irritant for the ruling BJP in Gujarat.
He was in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and considered very close to the once-powerful Pravin Togadia.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar retains charge of Rajasthan despite the BJP's defeat in recent elections. Another minister, Thawarchand Gehlot, has been named for Uttarakhand.
Along with Mr Zadaphia, two more leaders – Dushyant Gautam and Narottam Mishra – will be in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, the country's most political vital state with 80 parliamentary seats, enough to have a bearing on who rules the country.
Bhupender Yadav and Anil Jain have been assigned Bihar and Chhattisgarh, according to a BJP statement. V Muraleedharan and Deodhar Rao are in charge of Andhra Pradesh. Mahendra Singh and OP Mathur have been given charge of Assam and Gujarat.