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Advani, Swaraj, RSS chief meet to sort out Modi issue

New Delhi, Sep 6, 2013 (PTI):

Senior BJP leaders L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj, who are said to be opposed to the declaration of Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate in the next elections, held a dinner meeting with RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday to discuss the issue.

Advani hosted the dinner where Bhagwat and Swaraj were present and the three are understood to have discussed whether Modi should be declared the PM candidate now or it should be postponed till the forthcoming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi are over.

The meeting assumes significance as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan reportedly met Bhagwat, Advani and BJP Chief Rajnath Singh here last Sunday and requested them not to declare Modi as the PM candidate before the Assembly polls as it will harm the party in over 30 seats in the state due to polarisation of Muslim votes.

However, Chouhan tweeted today afternoon- three days after his meeting with Bhagwat and the BJP top brass- denying that he was opposed to Modi being made the PM candidate.

"Reports in certain sections of media around my objection to Shri @narendramodi being declared as PM candidate are baseless & misleading... In BJP, the party is supreme and it will decide and declare the PM candidate at the right moment. Any speculation in this regard is avoidable," he said.

Party sources said the pros and cons of declaring Modi the PM candidate were discussed between Bhagwat, Advani and Swaraj. Advani and Swaraj are reported to be still opposed to the idea while the RSS and a sizable section of the BJP feels the announcement should not be delayed any further.

A coordination committee meeting of RSS, BJP, VHP and other Sangh parivar outfits is being held on September 8 and 9 to discuss crucial issues. Though the issue of making Modi the PM candidate is not on the agenda, there is likelihood of some noises being made in this regard during the conclave.

However, the plans to annoint Modi have hit fresh roadblocks. The resignation letter of D G Vanzara, the suspended police officer allegedly involved in the controversial Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati encounters, has been cited by those opposed to Modi to build the argument that he should not be declared the PM candidate, atleast till the matter cools down.

Vanzara has attacked Modi and then Minister of State Amit Shah in his letter and held them responsible for the plight of several jailed police officers, saying they have been left to fend for themselves for following instructions.

The pro-Modi leaders maintain that they had factored in such attacks, as well as the charges being levelled by the Congress on the Gujarat Chief Minister, and insist that the party should go ahead with the announcement.

Sources said efforts are on by top leaders supporting Modi to ensure that his name is declared by the second week of September.

"BJP does not believe in making such announcements on birthdays and so reports that the declaration may be made on September 17 (Modi's birthday) are not true. But we are trying our best to get the announcement made in the second week," a party leader said.

The inauspicious period of "pitrapaksh" starts on September 20 and by then the Assembly election notification is also likely to be announced. This may push the annointment of Modi further and this prospect is making his supporters restless, sources said.


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