Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Bulldozing opposition from almost every quarter, Narendra Modi has finally been named the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate.
Modi is, in fact, now the PM candidate of the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) too endorsing his candidature. The NDA, at present, consists of BJP, SAD and Shiv Sena.
While BJP leaders and cadre are celebrating, the big question on everyone’s mind is - can he catapult the party to victory in the all-important 2014 General Elections?
While announcing Modi’s anointment on Friday, BJP leaders reposed their faith in him. And the man of the moment pledged to lead the BJP to victory in 2014.
The BJP’s decision, expected since Modi was named the election campaign chief in June also against LK Advani`s wishes, triggered a wave of euphoria in the main opposition party that has been out of power since stunningly losing the 2004 Lok Sabha battle.
There were joyous scenes at the BJP headquarters as the 62-year-old Modi drove in to attend a meeting of the parliamentary board which decided to name him its general. More celebrations took place later too.
BJP president Rajnath Singh made the formal announcement at a media conference, and Modi pledged to do everything to ensure that the BJP again got to rule the world`s largest democracy.
"I promise that in the 2014 election, the BJP will emerge victorious," said Modi, dressed in a lemon green buttoned-up traditional kurta, flanked by senior colleagues, the only absentee being former mentor Advani.
"For this, the party will work hard and we will leave no stone unturned," said Modi after accepting sweets, bouquets and garlands. "I am sure people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari will vote for the (BJP)."
The Friday announcement came after days of drama during which Rajnath Singh tried his best to persuade those who ranged against Modi to fall in line. He succeeded -- except in Advani`s case.
Advani not only stayed away from the parliamentary board meeting but wrote -- a la June -- a stinging letter to Rajnath Singh voicing displeasure over the latter`s style of functioning -- an obvious reference to the way the party president goaded others to come on board the Modi decision.
The BJP decision on Modi -- widely seen as a divisive figure despite enjoying mass support -- became public knowledge on Friday afternoon through Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, who was one of the two key allies Rajnath Singh telephoned seeking their support.
"The decision ... is in tune with the mood of the people," Thackeray said.
Modi, who once sold tea in a railway station in Gujarat, said it was a matter of pride that the BJP had catapulted him -- despite his origin from "a humble family" -- as the prime ministerial candidate.
In his four-minute speech in Hindi, Modi paid tributes to Vajpayee and Advani. In an attempt to buy peace, Modi later drove to Advani`s residence but details of what they discussed were not available.
"We have always announced prime ministerial candidates... Seeing the national mood, we have decided that Narendra Modi will be our PM candidate in the Lok Sabha election," Rajnath Singh said.
The ruling Congress, meanwhile, spoke in different voices. While spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury called it "an internal affair" of BJP, Law Minister Kapil Sibal was sarcastic: "If BJP wants to celebrate an early Diwali, let them."
The Congress is unlikely to name a prime ministerial candidate though there is clamour within to pick Rahul Gandhi, the party vice president and son of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
(With IANS inputs)