Narendra Modi is BJP poll panel chief

Narendra Modi is BJP poll panel chief

Rajnath says decision unanimous; Gujarat CM has Advani blessings

Narendra Modi is BJP poll panel chief

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday announced the appointment of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as chairman of theparty campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, ending days of parleys and tussle among its senior leaders over he issue.

BJP president Rajnath Singh informed the national executive about Modi’s appointment, before briefing the media.

The announcement came against the backdrop of reported opposition to the appointment by BJP veteran L K Advani, who “boycotted” the executive meeting for the first time since the launch of the party in 1980.

However, after holding night-long discussions with party leaders, Singh declared that Modi would head the panel. The declaration virtually puts the four-time chief minister as the face of the BJP in the elections and a key contender for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) prime ministerial candidate.

Making the announcement at the Marriot Hotel, Singh remarked: “I want to give you a significant piece of information. I have announced (at the national executive meeting) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the chairman of the BJP election campaign committee, keeping in mind the challenge of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. I have no hesitation in making this decision.”

Flanked by party seniors, Sushma Swaraj (an Advani loyalist) and Arun Jaitley, Singh stressed that the decision was unanimous. M Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar (from the Advani camp) and other party leaders were on the podium from where Singh made the announcement in an apparent show of unity.

“We are absolutely sure that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government has lost the confidence of the people and are confident that the BJP will be voted to power in the 2014 elections. The BJP views the coming Lok Sabha elections as a challenge and Modi’s elevation was done keeping in mind the need to achieve victory,” he said. “All political parties take elections as their biggest challenge and so do we. We will move ahead with the resolve of victory.”

Minutes after the declaration, Modi, BJP’s man of the moment, apparently sought to buy peace with Advani, his one-time mentor, and tweeted:  “Senior leaders have reposed faith in me. We will leave no stone unturned for ‘Congress mukt Bharat nirman’. Thanks for the support and blessings. Spoke to Advaniji on the phone. He gave me his blessings. Honoured and extremely grateful for his blessings.”

Shortly thereafter, Modi along with Singh and Jaitley addressed an enthused gathering of BJP workers where he gave a call for “Congress bhagao” (remove Congress).

Party sources told Deccan Herald that the key decision was taken after Singh played a crucial role in convincing the Advani camp of the inevitability of naming Modi as campaign panel chief. The RSS, too, backed the decision and was understood to have told Singh not to delay the decision, with or without Advani’s consent.

Finally, Singh spoke to Advani late on Saturday night to ensure that he came on board. Modi was also said to have been holding parleys with individual leaders of the party.

Immediately after the announcement, Venkaiah Naidu told Deccan Herald: “Modi will now form the committee. This panel is supplementary to the election committee of the party and its task will be to campaign, gear up the party, mobilise workers, finalise the nitty-gritty of elections.”