Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah appointed PS Sreedharan Pillai the president of the party’s Kerala’s unit on Monday. The post was vacant since Pillai’s predecessor Kummanam Rajasekharan was appointed the governor of Mizoram in May.

He also appointed Sunil Deodhar the party’s national secretary. Deodhar is believed to have played a crucial role in securing the saffron party’s rise to power during the Tripura elections earlier this year.

“I am ready to take up the challenge,” said Pillai. “My first priority is to strengthen the party in Kerala.” Pillai had led the state unit from 2003 to 2006. He is considered a moderate leader as opposed to Rajasekharan. Critics have described the Mizoram governor, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member, as a Hindutva hardliner.

Deodhar, the official in charge of the party’s affairs in Tripura, has been asked to share the additional responsibility of overseeing its activities in Andhra Pradesh with former Kerala party chief V Muraleedharan. Andhra Pradesh will go to polls for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in 2019.