Zee Media Bureau/ Ajith Vijay Kumar
New Delhi: Notwithstanding the adamant stand adopted by LK Advani, the BJP appears all set for a tectonic change by way of Narendra Modi’s elevation as its PM candidate for 2014 polls.
After the RSS put its weight behind the Gujarat Chief Minister, most members of the BJP top brass have fallen in line behind Modi and are backing him. At the forefront of this tribe is party president Rajnath Singh who is leaving no stone unturned to deliver Modi is his birthday – September 17 – gift.
However, the carefully scripted plan may go haywire given Advani’s staunch opposition to the idea. Sources told Zee News that Advani, during his talks with Rajnath to break the deadlock, said that his “inner voice” prevents him from supporting Modi.
As per reports, Advani has also told Rajnath that Modi announcement would be disaster and will seriously hit the prospects of the party in the upcoming elections.
Adding fuel to the fire, Advani’s protégé Sudheendra Kulkarni opened a new front against Modi and called him a polarising figure who won’t be able to provide a stable government.
Clearly, the big worry for Rajnath and the RSS appears to be the real possibility of heading into 2014 with a divided house if Advani and others don’t come on board.
The former Deputy PM had announced his resignation from all BJP posts immediately after Modi was anointed as head of the party`s election Campaign Committee, but was convinced by RSS to withdraw it.
But as things stand, Rajnath appears resolute in his desire to get the announcement passed within the next few days.
Two options before him:
1. Call a meeting of BJP’s parliamentary party board – the highest decision making body – and pass a resolution in favour of Modi. With ‘for Modi’ members – Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Ramlal presenting brute majority against those ‘against Modi’ – LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi – the choice can be ‘democratically’ arrived at.
2. The BJP constitution gives the party president the power to unilaterally announce a decision. Rajnath may use it if the parliamentary board route comes to naught.
However, the intense wrangling within the party indicates that Rajnath is not inclined to go try any of the two above mentioned options. Going by BJP’s self idolatry ‘party with a difference’ mantra, he is keen to declare Modi as PM candidate with consensus.
Advani is adamant that the Narendra Modi announcement be postponed until after the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Mizoram.
His critics say that Advani wants the BJP to go slow on Modi’s name as he expects Shivraj Singh Chauhan to win back Madhya Pradesh for the third time in a row, thereby bringing him on equal footing with Modi – a development that would allow Advani to push for the more ‘moderate’ Chauhan as more suited party’s PM candidate.
As if on cue, Chauhan has been playing ball on the issue and has worked to create a secular image for himself. Also, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has joined ranks with Advani to push for a delay in formal anointing of Narendra Modi, arguing that the Gujarat Chief Minister`s coronation before that could hurt the party`s re-election prospects in his state.
But Chauhan is also smart enough not to be seen as in opposition to the Modi juggernaut. After initially being absent from posters of Chauhan’s Jan Ashirwad Yatra, Modi now finds a prominent space on them. Also, the BJP campaign committee chief will address a massive party workers rally at the Jamboori Maidan in Bhopal on September 25. The party workers’ "mahakumbh`` will mark the concluding ceremony of Chouhan`s yatra.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi are other prominent leaders who want a delay. While Sushma is against any move by the party top brass to ignore Advani’s concerns, it remains to be seen whether she will stand by her mentor if the majority view remains committed to Modi.
Sources said that Rajnath is toying with the idea of offering her the post of campaign committee chief if she backs Modi for the top job.
On the other hand, Joshi, a former party president, is highly unlikely to go against the popular choice, especially if he sees himself left with no other option.
Rajnath wants the decision to anoint Modi be made by the party’s parliamentary board; however, given Advani’s staunch opposition, he may be forced to declare Modi’s name as the choice of the majority of members on the board.
As matters stand today, the parliamentary board meeting will be convened on September 13 or latest by September 16, chances of any further dealy look remote.
Narendra Modi’s birthday gift has already been packed and is ready for delivery. Advani can join the revellers or risk being isolated within the BJP that rode to power on his rath.