BJP leadership on Thursday appeared to be in a clear mood to announce Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate, with its president Rajnath Singh seeking to downplay party veteran L K Advani’s reservations, saying “nobody is unhappy".
There were indications that the announcement could be made at the earliest notwithstanding Mr Advani’s opposition as attempts to convince him failed.
Hectic activity was underway in the party to evolve as much consensus as possible. In this context, senior party leader Ananth Kumar met Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, who is also said to be having reservations to Mr. Modi’s projection.
Mr Rajnath Singh is set to meet Ms Swaraj. On Wednesday night, he had called her up to discuss the issue.
Mr Rajnath Singh met senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi also on Wednesday night.
“I want to clarify that nobody in BJP is unhappy and nobody has put any conditions (on declaring Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate),” the party president said this morning when asked about Advani’s opposition and whether there was any hitch in declaring Mr Modi as BJP Prime Ministerial candidate.
Asked when the party’s Parliamentary Board meeting would be convened to take the final call on Modi’s projection, he said “it will be conveyed to you whenever it will be announced.”
Mr Rajnath Singh had a 30-minute meeting with Mr Advani on Wednesday to persuade him on Mr. Modi’s candidature but failed to get an assurance.
The moves to formally announce Modi as the candidate gained momentum after the go-ahead given by RSS last week.
Signficantly, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is in Gandhinagar on Thursday and Mr. Modi is expected to meet him.
Mr Modi’s supporters in the party insist that the announcement should be made before September 17 and efforts are being made to convene the Parliamentary Board meeting.
While Mr Advani has remained silent on the issue, his close associate Sudheendhra Kulkarni attacked Mr Modi, describing him as a “polarising leader” in the society as well as the party and caste aspersions on his ability as a Prime Minister to run a stable and effective government.
“A socially polarising leader has polarised his own party. Can he run a smooth, stable and effective government at the Centre? think seriously!” Mr Kulkarni said on Twitter about Mr Modi without naming him.
“Elections are seven months away. People want a change. But who will provide the change? Leaders who are polarising the society?” Mr Kulkarni told a news channel.
He maintained that there is no unanimity in the party about the Prime Ministerial candidate.
“Question does arise that can such a leader ensure a smooth government and peace in the society,” he said.
Mr Rajnath Singh and his predecessor Nitin Gadkari had visited Mr Advani in the last two days to convince him on Modi’s candidature but got no assurance from him.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader from Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi has targeted Mr Advani saying he “has failed to gauge the public mood. Advaniji himself declared Atalji as PM candidate. Now also he could have done the same for Namo (Narendra Modi).”
Besides Mr Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi are also opposed to announcing Modi as the PM candidate before the forthcoming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi.