Consensus eludes BJP-RSS meeting

Consensus eludes BJP-RSS meeting

Consensus over naming Narendra Modi as the prime-ministerial candidate eluded the first day of a crucial meeting of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday, with a section of the party firmly opposing the move.

The issue will come up again for discussion on Monday when RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat arrives and takes part in the meeting with a smaller group of top BJP leaders.

The issue was not discussed openly with delegates on the first day of the “Samanvay Baithak” (coordination meeting), attended by 65 leaders, including those from 13 affiliates of the RSS.

The BJP is under pressure to name Modi by September 19 because ‘Pitripaksh’ (an inauspicious fortnight) starts from September 20. If this period is missed, the party may announce its decision after the assembly elections due to be held in five states.
BJP heavyweight Sushma Swaraj reportedly expressed strong opposition to Modi being declared as the party’s prime-ministerial candidate.

Party veteran L K Advani too was reportedly against such move. He is said to have also threatened to quit his Lok Sabha membership.

The BJP, however, prevailed over him, arguing that the demand to project Modi as the prime-ministerial candidate was coming from party cadre. The BJP has reportedly suggested the party stalwart not to take any drastic step as Hindu votes may get split between Modi and his camps.

“I am in a meeting. I can’t speak to you now,” said senior BJP leader Ananth Kumar when contacted.

The meeting on Monday is expected to be a stormy affair as the RSS has already conveyed its view to the BJP on the issue. “The Sangh has already made its position clear. It is for the party to decide whom to declare and when. I will not say this here,” said RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya on Saturday.

The meeting, which will conclude on Monday, discussed plans to hold programmes to reach out to people belonging to scheduled castes, schedule tribes, other backward classes, minority women and the youth in tandem, with an eye on the Lok Sabha election next year.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad was asked to prepare the youth brigade to be involved in the party’s campaign. Issues of national security and prevailing economic situation in the country also figured in the meet.

The delegates discussed strategy on how to project the United Progressive Alliance’s failure on the two fronts to the people, said sources. The meeting was attended by the BJP Parliamentary Board members, including the party’s election campaign committee chairman and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who left for Ahmedabad to attend a function in the second half of the day.

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