Modi-Rajnath bonhomie did the trick

Modi-Rajnath bonhomie did the trick

The strategic foundation for the BJP’s historic victory in the Lok Sabha elections can be traced back to a meeting between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and newly-elected party president Rajnath Singh at his residence in the national capital on January 27, 2013.

A senior BJP leader aware of the decision-making process that finally projected Modi as prime ministerial candidate said that Singh, who had replaced Nitin Gadkari who was caught in a controversy over the dubious funding of his Purti Group of companies, had made up his mind to push Modi as the face of the party for the 2014 elections given his performance and popularity.

And Singh conveyed to Modi his desire of projecting him as the PM candidate in the following month, sources aware of the equations between the two told Deccan Herald.

Foreseeing trouble ahead for projecting the Hindutva poster-boy as poll mascot, Singh shared his plan with Modi of staggering his decisions pertaining to the larger game plan to allow for the stiff opposition to Modi from within the party itself to dissipate over a space of time. 

Singh first declared Modi as campaign chief for the Lok Sabha elections on June 9 at the BJP’s Goa conclave despite open defiance by patriarch L K Advani. 

Later, on September 13, he was declared as the prime ministerial candidate by the BJP’s parliamentary board, taking away the blame from the Advani camp for pushing Modi to the forefront too early.  

From there on grew a bond between the two that turned out to be a winning combination that appears set to replace  the original Atal Bihari Vajpayee-L K Advani “jodi” that midwifed the party’s birth in 1980 post its separation from the Jana Sangh and steered the NDA to power for the first time 18 years later.

BJP sources said Singh knew that the party had to do well in his native state of Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for 80 seats,  for it to come to power at the Centre. 

That was the reason he requested Modi to contest from there (Modi opted for Varanasi) and handed over the reins of managing the campaign in UP to Modi’s closest aide Amit Shah. 

Woven into this strategy was also his perception that together with Modi he would be able to handle the state leaders of his generation who were not able to cope with the challenges thrown by the Young India generation. 

He, however, roped in other senior leaders like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari, giving them specific targets to achieve in the election campaign.  

Sources said that their strategy was based on broad twin objectives. First, to milk Modi’s strong leadership and popularity reflected in the development and good governance offered in Gujarat – a move to catch the growing anti-UPA government sentiment among the people. Second, as a leader stated, to scale up the Gujarat model of electioneering that banked heavily on the use of social media for campaigning. 

Last mile details of 340 constituencies were fed into the BJP war room for identifying the caste matrix, individual electoral history and other relevant issues.  In UP, for example, depending on such analysis, a plan was decided to divide the entire state into a grid of four constituencies each for the purpose of poll management.

 The BJP’s plan was so overwhelming that even Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was forced to acknowledge its “marketing strategy”.

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