BJP chief Rajnath Singh’s inability to make headway with party veteran L K Advani on Wednesday, on when to announce Narendra Modi’s name as the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections, put a question mark on the date of the BJP parliamentary board meeting. The decision on the PM candidate has to be officially endorsed by the board.
Much hype has already been created in expectation of a formal announcement projecting Modi as PM after a BJP parliamentary board meeting, which was to be held on September 13. Citing the internal tussle that followed Modi’s anointment as BJP campaign committee chief at the Goa conclave, sources said the RSS top brass directed Rajnath to avoid a similar situation this time around. However, sources also said it has been made amply clear to the BJP chief that the Modi announcement cannot be delayed or kept in abeyance till the Assembly elections to five states, which includes Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi.
The feedback received from the RSS-BJP meeting, which was also attended by all other Sangh affiliates last Sunday-Monday, has convinced the Nagpur brass that the announcement “cannot and should not” be delayed any further, sources said.
This is also to do with the fact that senior BJP leaders—Advani being the most respected and prominent among them, who are not in favour of an early announcement of Modi’s candidature, failed to provide an “alternative strategy” to explain the delay to the rank-and-file.
Obviously, the logic that the announcement would dampen the party’s chances in the coming Assembly polls, especially in Madhya Pradesh, was not found “acceptable”, more so as the RSS and a large section of the BJP are convinced that Modi, as a “popular communicator”, could be the vote-catcher. In fact, it was felt that situation may change after the polls, leading to more confusion. In any case, none of the leaders had any answer when asked whether there was any one in the party who matched Modi’s popularity, sources added.
It’s not that the RSS and a section of the BJP do not realise that a high-decibel campaign surrounding Modi will not be easy to sustain for the next eight months. But any dithering at this stage, they feel, would give out a negative message to the party “karyakartas” who have been galvanised by Modi. It is being said “it was Advani who a year ago had started the discussion that the party has to go to polls with a face” that the voters can identify.
But the BJP spokesperson was evasive on when the parliamentary board of 12 members would meet. Rajnath, it seems, has been looking at two dates, September 13 and 16. Since his meeting with Advani fell through, the BJP chief may be looking at the next date.