BJP divided on timing of announcing PM candidate
Narendra Ch | 07 Sep 2013

A clear-cut division is seen in the top leadership of the Indian principle opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the issue of announcing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate for the forthcoming 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The parent organization RSS, which succeeded in persuading all top BJP leaders in accepting Modi as its PM candidature by appointing him as president of the party campaign committee, several party stalwarts are differing on the timing of such announcement.

Narendra Modi though told a student audience two days ago that he want to service his state as chief minister till 2017 and not aiming at climbing to top political position of the country, Prime MInistership, he is not leaving any opportunity in pushing the party for an earliest announcement.

The RSS leadership also seems to be in hurry in making the BJP to take a decision in this regard. The highest decision making body in the party Parliamentary Board is needed to take a decision in this regard.

In this regard, RSS Joint General Secretary Suresh Bhaiyaji attempted to convince former deputy prime minister L K Advani and also leader of the opposition in the parliament Smt. Sushma Swaraj last Sunday meeting them. BJP Chief Rajnath Singh was also present on this occasion. As his meditation failed to yield any result, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat swing into action by meeting Advani and Sushma Swaraj over dinner at Advani’s residence on Friday night.

As the issue of announcing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate is still being debated within the party, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has met senior party leaders L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj over the issue.

Though party leaders were tight-lipped about the outcome of the meeting, they hinted that the Prime Ministerial candidate issue was discussed at the meeting. Both Sushma and Advani have been insisting that announcing Modi’s name before the Assembly polls will relegate corruption issues to the background and impact the performance of BJP Chief Ministers of poll-bound states.

Four crucial states for BJP, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, besides Manipur are going to polls in November, later this year. Presently BJP is in office in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and remained as main opposition party in the next two states. Now the party is making hectic efforts to come to power in all four states.

However, a strong pro-Modi lobby within the BJP wants his name announced in September. And Modi will be holding four rallies in Jaipur, Ambikapur (Chattisgarh), Rewari (Haryana), Trichy (Tamil Nadu) in September. A crucial two-day meet of the RSS, BJP and other saffron organisations is scheduled to begin on September 8.

The fear of Modi supporters is that if Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chowhan returned to power for the consecute third term, he will join as a powerful contender for Prime Minister Position. Many observers says his administration is pro-poor and registered very impressive growth in all critical sectors, unlike Modi’s Gujarat. To avoid such situation, they are insisting to announce PM candidate by now itself.

Modi supporters are also worried as jailed IPS officer D G Vanzara’s allegations seeking to implicate Modi and his confidant Amit Shah in fake encounter cases may further clouded his  prospects. The last week has been significant because of several high-profile meetings.

 Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had a meeting with Advani, hours after Joshi held meeting with Advani and Sushma.  Though it turned out that Chauhan was also opposed to Modi being named the PM candidate before Madhya Pradesh elections, he has denied that he is against Modi. 

Even in the 12-member parliamentary board, there are 11 voting members - excluding Atal Behari Vajpayee - and the situation again appears evenly balanced if the ambiguous positions of former BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Thawarchand Gehlot are considered.

Sources said that while four members - L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar - are against the announcement before the Assembly elections, another four - Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Ramlal and Narendra Modi himself - favour an early announcement.  This is seen as resulting in a tie again as Rajnath Singh is not going to cast the first vote. Assuming a decision about Modi will have to be taken in Modi's absence; Rajnath's support will only leave the situation evenly balanced.