Modi is BJP's PM, Advani just a 'respected' leader
By Express News Service | Published: 14th September 2013 07:49 AM |
BJP president Rajnath Singh worked overtime to cobble up consensus within the top leadership of the party to declare Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha elections.
The hectic parleys of the last few days culminated in Modi’s anointment on Friday evening and sent party cadres across the country into a celebratory mood.
Flanked by the party’s parliamentary board members, including Sushma Swaraj and MM Joshi, but barring senior leader LK Advani, Singh announced Modi’s name in a packed conference room at the party headquarters. “The party has been announcing its prime ministerial candidates since 1999 and did so in 2009 too,” he said amidst sounding of conch shells. He expressed confidence that the BJP will win the 2014 elections.
Advani stood his ground in opposing the timing of the declaration. He not only skipped the parliamentary board meeting but also shot off a letter to Singh expressing his disappointment over the functioning of the party. Sushma Swaraj and MM Joshi, who were also opposed to Modi’s candidature, were brought around to endorse the move.
Dressed in a green kurta, Modi thanked the party for giving a chance to a worker like him with humble origins. He assured that he will not leave “any stone unturned to meet the expectations.” He gave a new slogan, nayi asha, nayi umeed, nayi soch, and sought blessings for his new assignment. The announcement came as a birthday gift for Modi who turns 63 on Sept 17. Cadres burst crackers in celebration after the announcement.
The BJP hopes to reap the benefit of an early start as Assembly elections in five states will become a mini-general election of sorts. Sources said sufficient time was needed for Modi to project himself at the national stage. But Singh’s decision on Modi was not an easy one. Though the path for his elevation was cleared in June when he was appointed the party’s election committee chief, the final push came from the RSS.
After the two-day meeting between BJP and RSS on Sept 8-9, the Sangh made its stance clear. Since then, Rajnath Singh who “stood like a rock” behind Modi held marathon meetings to arrive at a consensus and stick to the internal deadline of Sept 13. On Thursday, he reached out to Sushma Swaraj and MM Joshi. Senior leaders Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar met Advani. Late Thursday, Rajnath decided to go ahead with the parliamentary board meeting. On Friday, former party chief Gadkari met Rajnath and later, Advani in a last-ditch effort. Finally, before the parliamentary board meeting, Rajnath called up allies Shiv Sena and Akali Dal and went to invite Advani. But Advani refused to attend. Soon after the announcement, Modi went to meet Advani to seek his “blessings.”