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Regional satraps at ceremony make Modi's future formidable

Ahmedabad, Dec 26, 2012 , DHNS 1:47 IST
Narendra Modi. AFP photo
An overwhelming presence of regional satraps at the Sardar Patel stadium, where Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Gujarat Chief Minister for the fourth time on Wednesday, has made it clear that the BJP will bank on Modi to revive its electoral fortune at the national level.

With the presence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha (AIADMK) and former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala (INLD), Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, the event turned into a show of strength for the BJP. Neither Jayalalitha nor Chautala are part of the NDA, but hold a sway in national politics. Besides, the presence of Uddhav and Raj Thackeray, representing two potent political outfits in Maharashtra, indicated that in the days to come, Modi could well become be the binding factor for the BJP and its allies.

The developments hold significance because a key NDA constituent, the Janata Dal (United) led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has resented Modi’s elevation as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. Neither Kumar, nor any JD (U) member attended the do. Moreover, RSS top brass, particularly leaders from Nagpur, were conspicuous by their absence, though some state representatives attended the ceremony. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which has been at loggerheads with the Gujarat chief minister, was represented by Ashok Singhal, an indicator that the saffron brigade could not ignore him despite brewing differences.

However, the BJP camp remained upbeat, bolstered by the presence of political heavyweights like Jayalalitha, the Thackerays and Chautala, besides the party’s top brass.

The developments hold significance because a key NDA constituent, the Janata Dal (United) led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has resented Modi’s elevation as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. Neither Kumar, nor any JD (U) member attended the do. Moreover, RSS top brass, particularly leaders from Nagpur, were conspicuous by their absence, though some state representatives attended the ceremony.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which has been at loggerheads with the Gujarat chief minister, was represented by Ashok Singhal, an indicator that the saffron brigade could not ignore him despite brewing differences. However, the BJP camp remained upbeat, bolstered by the presence of political heavyweights like Jayalalitha, the Thackerays and Chautala, besides the party’s top brass. Modi had even sent an invite to TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu.

Though the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister did not attend the do, Modi’s friendly overtures are being perceived in a different light. Meanwhile, the BJP’s unrelenting faith in Modi was underscored by the presence of his mentor L K Advani and rival-turned-friend Nitin Gadkari, besides the chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa and Karnataka.

“Modi, along with his party, tried to send out a message,’’ said political historian Vishnu Pandya, adding that Raj and Uddhav Thackeray burying their differences to attend the ceremony together also holds significance for Maharashtra. “By inviting people like Chautala, both Modi and the BJP were trying to reach out to new allies,” Pandya said.
Besides Modi, 16 ministers took oath on Wednesday. The council of minsters features five new faces this time. Veterans like five-time Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala and Narottam Patel were left out, besides former MoS Home, Amit Shah. Party sources indicated that Shah may get a position with the party’s central leadership. Anandiben Patel will now be the most senior minister in Modi’s Cabinet, fuelling speculations that he may groom Patel for the top job in the state, in case he shifts to Delhi.

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