Allahabad: The prospects of Narendra Modi being named Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate gained momentum as the saints attending the Dharma Sansad openly backed his candidature for the top post. The sansad was organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday.
Even RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat in an oblique hint, appeared to back Modi as BJP's prime ministerial candidate. However, he said the party will be responsible for the consequences of its decision.
Two prominent saints, including Ramanujacharya and Vasudevacharya, demanded Modi to be made BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 polls.
Addressing the Dharma Sansad, saint Ramanujacharya said, “Neither UPA, nor NDA, we just want Modi to become the prime minister.”
The saints attending the Dharma Sansad feel that Modi’e elevation as the Prime Minister will pave the way for the construction of a grand Ram temple, which was once the main political plank of the BJP.
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.
The growing support for Modi at the ‘Dharma Sansad’ is crucial since it is being attended by top leaders of the RSS, VHP and other religious heads.
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 has not been invited to the RSS-VHP meet at the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, the firebrand politician has been at the core of the deliberations, reports said.
Modi is my friend: RSS chief
Despite being a RSS product, the relations between the Gujarat Chief Minister and the VHP have been edgy till recently owing to the perceived cold war between Modi and Togadia over the erosion of once strong base of VHP in Gujarat.
Speaking at the VHP 'dharma sansad', a gathering of religious leaders, he referred to the clamour for Modi as PM candidate at the meet and also elsewhere.
Without referring to the Gujarat Chief Minister by name, Bhagwat said, "People know what is in your heart. The whole country is echoing with the same voice.
"And that is why we should not interfere in what should be done. They (BJP) will have to take a decision on what is to be done..... Whatever we may say, those who should do it, it is their right. We should allow them to do it. If what they do comes out wrong, then we should let them eat the fruits as well."
Ahead of the meet when Bhagwat was asked what he thought of Modi, he said, "He is my friend".
A section of BJP leaders have demanded that Modi be declared as the party's Prime Ministerial candidate. 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.
Earlier, party leaders Yashwant Sinha, CP Thakur and Ram Jethmalani are among those who have openly advocated for Modi.
The meeting saw some people 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.
First Published: Thursday, February 07, 2013, 16:10