New Delhi: The clamour for making Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate has become louder with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) openly backing the Gujarat Chief Minister as their top choice for the 2014 polls.
Now, with its ideological fountainhead the RSS and its affiliate the VHP endorsing Modi’s name for the top job, the pressure has also increased on the BJP to formally declare him as its top choice for the 2014 polls, reports said on Friday.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday virtually endorsed the Gujarat BJP leader, saying popular sentiments for him needed to be taken into account.
Speaking at a VHP gathering at the Maha Kumbh after sadhus raised slogans in Modi`s favour, Bhagwat said, "The mood in the country and popular sentiments in the party in favour of a particular political leader need to be taken into account while choosing a candidate to be projected as the future PM."
The remark is seen as a major indication that the larger Sangh Parivar may be coming around to projecting Modi as their choice for prime minister despite resistance from some top BJP leaders and allies like Nitish Kumar.
Addressing the VHP ‘Dharma Sansad’, a gathering of religious leaders, the RSS chief referred to the clamour for Modi as PM candidate at the meet and also elsewhere.
“People know what is in your heart. The whole country is echoing with the same voice,” Bhagwat said.
Earlier, when asked by reporters what he thought of Modi, Bhagwat said, “He is my friend”.
VHP leader Giriraj Kishore also joined the ‘Modi-for PM’ chorus, saying like Gujarat the whole country can benefit from his leadership as there has been tremendous development in the State under his rule.
The meeting yesterday saw some saints in the audience raising slogans in support of Modi as religious leaders gave their speeches. Bhagwat and VHP leaders Ashok Singhal and Parveen Togadia tried to pacify them with the RSS chief saying that the Sangh Parivar was ‘well aware of the people’s wishes’.
Togadia and Singhal requested that the ‘Dharma Sansad’ be allowed to remain focused on its agenda. Raising the Ayodhya issue in his address, Bhagwat said that the RSS was fully committed to construction of Ram Temple at Ramjanmbhoomi.
“It is the obligation of Parliament to remove hurdles in the way of construction of Ram temple. Either Parliament should honour the wishes of the people or the people should elect a Parliament that is sensitive to the issue,” the RSS chief said.
Earlier, senior VHP leader Ashok Singhal had openly backed Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, although his organisation is split over making the Gujarat Chief Minister as its choice for 2014 polls.
While Singhal’s support for Modi is being seen as an attempt by the VHP to mend ties with him given the increasing clamour in his support, other leaders in the VHP, most notably Praveen Togadia, have not yet spoken on the issue.
Singhal recently said that Modi is as popular as India’s first Prime Minister JL Nehru; however, Togadia has been categorical that he will not talk about one person or one party.
Though Modi was not invited to the RSS-VHP meet at the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, the firebrand politician has been at the core of the deliberations.
(With PTI inputs)