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BJP evasive on question of Modi running for PM's chair

New Delhi, Dec 20, 2012, DHNS:
PTI file photo

Hindutva poster boy Narendra Modi’s triple emphatic Assembly election win to return as Gujarat chief minister is apparently not music to the ears of BJP central leadership.

With the BJP under his leadership getting a decisive mandate — though two less seats than the previous tally of 117 in 2007 — Modi’s ambition of becoming party’s prime minister candidate for the next general election got a kick.

The BJP — which has other claimants for prime ministership including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitely, L K Advani and Rajnath Singh, if the party comes to power — will have to struggle to accommodate Modi not only because it would lead to a tussle for the post but also dampen efforts to either broaden or hold on to NDA partners, courtesy his controversial pro-right wing image.

Some of the top leaders parried the question — will the successive Gujarat win catapult Modi to the hot seat?

Leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha said Thursday’s result is for the 2012 polls. “This may be an interesting topic from the media’s point of view but we will take a decision at the appropriate time,” Jaitley said.

Getting into the details, he told a channel, “his (Modi) views matter... taken very seriously in BJP.”

Jaitley’s deputy in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad was also not forthcoming on the issue. “Modi bhai has always been an important leader in the BJP... We are not a dynastic party which is led by a Yuvaraj. We function in a pure democratic fashion,” BJP chief spokesperson Prasad said.

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who, while addressing a rally in Gujarat had said that people believe Modi is a prime ministerial candidate, was missing from the party celebration.

Similarly, party MP Balbir Punj stated: “I am not here to define Mr Modi’s role in the BJP. Narendra Modi was always a very important factor and he will have an even more say now, even if the Congress continues to demonise him.”

There were other leaders like Smita Irani and Tarun Vijay who were for Modi becoming the PM candidate. Modi “is the best suitable candidate” for the post of prime minister on the basis of his performance, Vijay said. Some of the NDA partners, especially the Janata Dal (United), have reservations over Modi taking centre stage given the fact that it questions their secular politics. “What is proved by his win? What does that have to do with us? When they discuss candidates with us, we will share our feedback. We are a secular country and a leader must exhibit secular credentials,” JD(U) MP Anwar Ali said.

Outside Gujarat

Sources also said that brand Modi remains untested outside the laboratory of Gujarat. He will have to prove his currency in other big states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, crucial for any party to occupy the centre with comfortable votes.


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