Zee Media Bureau
Panaji: Riding over dissent and differences within, Gujarat Chief Minister and Hindutva icon Narendra Modi was on Sunday named to lead the BJP into the 2014 Lok Sabha battle, marking the end of the era of the party`s ageing patriarchs.
The Bharatiya Janata Party announced here that the Modi had been named chairman of the election management committee for the Lok Sabha polls, virtually ensuring that Modi, 62, will call the shots in the run up to the general elections.
Party president Rajnath Singh announced Modi’s elevation as BJP’s poll panel chief.
Addressing party members at the meet, the BJP president said, “The country is looking up to the BJP. We need to get prepared for the elections and Modi is the most appropriate person to lead the party to the elections…he is the most popular chief minister.” He added that the decision was taken on the basis of consensus.
Following the announcement, senior party leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj garlanded Modi on the stage.
Later, speaking to mediapersons, the BJP president said, "I want to give you a significant information. ...I have announced (at the National Executive) that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as Chairman of the BJP Election Campaign Committee, keeping in mind the challenge of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and to achieve victory in the polls."
Reacting to the development, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh congratulated Modi, but ruled out any comparison between the Gujarat Chief Minister and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
The big ticket decision was taken at the BJP National Executive in Goa despite strong opposition from party veteran L K Advani and his supporters. Reportedly, Advani had offered a compromise formula, suggesting that Modi be appointed as the convenor and not the chairman of the poll panel.
However, the suggestions were kept aside in the wake of strong voices of support for the Gujarat Chief Minister from within the party.
Advani, who was reported to be sick, skipped the BJP National Executive meet for the first time in his entire career. He was backed by several other senior leaders like Yashwant Sinha, Uma Bharti and Jaswant Singh, who also chose to remain absent from the meeting.
In his blog today, a `hurt` Advani evoked a string of historical and mythological anecdotes involving Hitler, Mussolini, a wounded and betrayed Bhishma Pitamaha and warrior Arjuna.
He also made references to dictatorial tendencies -- a trait critics see in Modi, who is also dogged by allegations of complicity in the 2002 Gujarat communal violence.
Modi, who arrived in confidence amid a rousing welcome at the three-day conclave, had a string of leaders clamouring to anoint him as the party`s prime ministerial candidate for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. Following this, the BJP had said that the “big announcement” would be possible on Sunday.
Party president Rajnath Singh, who has appeared to be on Modi`s side, in his inaugural address to the meet had said all would go home "happy and enthusiastic".
Later in the evening, speaking at a workers rally, Modi vowed to work for a Congress `mukt` Bharat.
"A country cannot function like this. Manmohan Singh is powerless before Sonia Gandhi. Both are leading India to peril. We have to work towards ensuring a Congress mukt Bharat," Modi said.
Modi`s elevation puts him in the same league as the party`s other mega leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani, whose stamp was all over the BJP campaigns in the 2004 and 2009 polls which the party lost.
The quantum political leap makes Modi`s political pedigree several notches higher since he was first asked by the party to take over as the Gujarat CM in 2001.
With IANS inputs