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BJP to decide on Modi as PM nominee today
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Pro-Modi camp upbeat

Pro-Modi camp insists that the party is ready for a life without Advani
His supporters maintain that people’s mandate is for Modi and that must be respected

crucial board meeting

BJP’s top decision-making body, the Parliamentary Board, is scheduled to meet around 5 pm on Friday
LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj & Murli Manohar Joshi are likely to express their opposition to Narendra Modi’s nomination
After the meeting, Modi may officially be declared party’s prime ministerial candidate, with or without the veteran leader’s consent
Other board members include Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Ramlal

New Delhi, September 12
The BJP seems set to declare Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate in spite of vehement opposition by party patriarch LK Advani.

Sources say the Parliamentary Board — the highest decision-making body of the party — will meet tomorrow around 5 pm after which Modi may officially be declared party’s prime ministerial candidate.

Senior leader Sushma Swaraj cancelled her trip to attend the meeting after BJP’s ideological mentor — the RSS — asked party president Rajnath Singh to go ahead with the meeting and give the “right message” to the cadre and also rival parties.

With Advani in no mood to relent, sources said the RSS asked Rajnath to convene the board meeting to give a fair hearing to the party veteran before an announcement is made, with or without his consent.

Sources say Advani will be present at the meeting and is expected to register his protest over the way the party is being run under “complete control of the RSS”.

Other dissenting Parliamentary Board members — Sushma and Murli Manohar Joshi — will also give their viewpoints but are not expected to stretch it beyond a certain point.

Amid a lack of consensus in the board, Rajnath today struggled to broker peace by holding several meetings with the RSS-BJP leadership.

It is quite obvious that the party is ready for a life without Advani, though sources insist “all attempts will be made to ensure his guidance and support”. They, however, say “people’s mandate is for Modi and everyone in the party must respect that”. The last word is yet to be said on the issue, which, either way, will have a huge bearing on the party’s future.

While Rajnath tried to play down the reservations of the Advani camp saying “nobody is unhappy”, the vertical split in the party was evident.

Advani, Sushma and Joshi are opposed to announcing Modi as the prime ministerial candidate before the forthcoming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi.

While Advani has remained silent, Sudheendhra Kulkarni, known for his proximity to the senior leader, described Modi as a “polarising” factor.

“A socially polarising leader has polarised his own party. Can he run a smooth, stable and effective government at the Centre?” said Kulkarni, who is no longer a BJP member. “Can such a leader (Modi) ensure a smooth government and peace in the society?” he said.

Senior BJP leader from Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi in turn targeted Advani saying the veteran leader had “failed to gauge the public mood”. “Advaniji himself declared Atalji as the prime ministerial candidate. He could have done the same for Namo (Narendra Modi) now,” he said. Sources close to Advani insist his reservations are based on concerns for the party and the manner in which it is being run. He is not happy with the RSS’ interference in party matters, which is surprising considering his proximity to the RSS. The RSS last week endorsed Modi’s name as the prime ministerial candidate but with a rider that the BJP must present a united house before the announcement.

Advani’s resistance to Modi first became public when he resigned from all party posts after Modi’s elevation as party’s election campaign committee chief.





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