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BJP leaders queue up to promote 'rock star' Modi

September 11, 2013 10:39 IST

BJP is queasy about the Modi-promotion

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Amid near certainty that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will be named the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate soon, subtle jockeying has started within the party on who will get what once the BJP forms a government after the 2014 elections.

“The announcement will come. That is certain. The question is who will get what after that,” said a BJP leader jocularly, given the fact that there has been resistance in the top echelons to upgrading Modi’s status, a fact the leader is not exactly unaware of.

Modi is not viewed within the BJP as a forgiving man, so this issue becomes crucial. Leaders, especially contemporaries like Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, however much they might loathe and fear him, are said to be scrambling to get on his right side.

Accordingly, a rally is planned in Bhopal later in September. His rally in Chhattisgarh has been a runaway success, with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh even erecting a mock Red Fort to build a larger-than-life image of Narendra Modi.

Internally, the BJP is queasy about the Modi-promotion going on unabashedly, almost on a par with the obsequiousness that in the Congress is reserved for members of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Reportage: Aditi Phadnis

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A cacophony of praise for the Gujarat CM

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Industry has spared no adjective to describe Modi’s leadership qualities. Nearer home, in the family, Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal has said Modi’s popularity across the length and breadth of the country is on a par with Jawaharlal Nehru’s.

The Atal Behari Vajpayee phase would appear to have been overlooked completely, at least by the VHP.

BJP chief Rajnath Singh has hailed Modi as the leader of the future and said he “created a new record” by becoming the first BJP chief minister to win the third successive election “convincingly” and “even the European Union recognised Modi’s contribution”.

Party colleague Anantha Kumar has described Modi as a “rock star” and has said people in the age group of 18-25 would decide the fate of India in 2014: they were all admirers of Modi.

Party leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy has said Modi would be the party’s prime ministerial candidate for sure. “The youth of the country want this (Modi as prime minister).”

Even Congress leader Vijay Darda, embroiled in the coal block allocation scam, compared Modi with Vivekananda and described him as the Lion of Gujarat, much to the embarrassment of the Congress which just looked the other way.

All this is adding up to a cacophony of praise for the Gujarat chief minister, who is keeping careful note of who is saying what and where, for use later.

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Public announcement may take time

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However, within the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the mood is generally more sober.

While accepting that Modi must have a central role to play to keep cadres together, the Sangh is of the view that taking any precipitate step could create a problem that might have no solution.

“Consider this: if the BJP gets less than 175 seats in the general elections, we will have no option but to get Shivraj Singh Chouhan to take the leadership mantle. If we have already announced Modi as PM, how will we wriggle out of that,” said a Sangh leader who has been privy to discussions going on between the Sangh and the BJP over the last three days.

Moreover, the Sangh believes if Modi is to be named the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, he has to give up the leadership of Gujarat.

“In the event that he does not become the prime minister, what will we do? Send him back to Gujarat to displace the person who will have become the chief minister,” a Sangh source asked.

They said an internal understanding that Modi would be the consensus candidate for PM is quite different from a public announcement. The latter may well take time.

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