M A I N   N E W S

BJP crowns Modi as PM candidate for 2014
Sulking Advani skips meeting Sushma, Joshi finally fall in line
Vibha Sharma/TNS

New Delhi, September 13
The BJP today formally announced Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014  Lok Sabha Elections.
But the big announcement, which the party cadres had been clamouring for, came without the blessings of the senior-most leader of the party LK Advani, who not only missed the brief ceremony after the Parliamentary Board meeting, but also penned his anguish, criticising party president Rajnath Singh’s style of functioning.

In his brief letter, an “anguished” Advani told Rajnath that he had decided not to attend the Parliamentary Board as he thought it was “better”.

With Modi’s anointment, the isolation of Advani, who along with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is credited with building up the BJP, seems complete. The veteran leader today found himself lonely and isolated and the only person missing from the ceremony. Senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi, who apparently shared Advani’s concerns, attended the meeting and supported Modi.

Rajnath was clear that by announcing Modi’s name as the party’s PM candidate, he was only following traditions set by the leadership from 1996 to 2009. Advani, notably, was the party’s face in 2009.

In his brief speech, Modi promised that he would not let any stone unturned to secure a win for the party in the coming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. He remembered contributions of Vajpayee and Advani. He later also went to meet the veteran leader to seek his “blessings”.

The announcement followed hectic negotiations by BJP and RSS leaders to bring Advani around. Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar and Sushma Swaraj tried to convince him. In the end, Rajnath, who had been trying hard to bring him on board, decided to go ahead with the meeting and make the announcement after consultations with the RSS leaders Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi and Suresh Soni. While Sushma and Joshi relented after being pointed out the importance of presenting a united House to rival parties and sending the right message to cadres, Advani remained firm on his stand that making Modi the PM candidate would divert attention from core issues against the Congress party like price rise and corruption. 

Sushma cancelled her plan to visit Haryana this morning to attend the Board meeting while Joshi was asked to return by a special flight from Sagar where he had gone to attend a party programme. Modi made it a point to show his respect to Joshi- the man who had brought him into the national politics when he was the president. By touching his feet, he perhaps wanted to send a message to his detractors that he would always respect party elders. Though seemingly in as celebratory a mood as others, Sushma was seated right next to the man of the moment.

Clearly, however, the last has not yet been said on the issue. Bhaiyyaji Joshi reached out to Advani perhaps to ensure that the veteran leader does not indulge in any Goa-type protest. Advani had resigned after Modi was named the party’s election campaign committee chief.


Saffron Shake-up

The self-avowed Hindu nationalist, four days short of turning 63, was anointed at a meeting of the 12-member BJP Parliamentary Board that a sulking Advani skipped. Before the meeting, Gadkari met Advani to persuade him on Modi's name. Swaraj and Ananth Kumar also joined him. But after several failed attempts, Rajnath decided to go ahead with the meeting without him.

What lies ahead 

  • With the Congress projecting Rahul Gandhi as its top campaigner, it will be Rahul vs Modi in 2014
  • NDA’s allies, Shiv Sena and Akali Dal, are happy, but getting new allies will be the biggest challenge before Modi
  • Modi’s first test will be in Assembly polls due in five states — Delhi, MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram — around Diwali. The BJP has major stakes in all states, except Mizoram





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