The path to power
Still miles to go for Modi to become PM
Despite all out clamour particularly from the Sangh Parivar outfits to project Gujarat Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, it is unlikely to happen so soon. Notwithstanding his self-portrayal as ‘vikas purush’ and attempts to appear as some kind of a youth icon, Mr Modi’s attempts to take centre-stage in the BJP politics will encounter many humps.
The battle for him will be two-fold. Firstly, he will have to make himself acceptable to the BJP top brass which itself is full of candidates ready to take up the mantle of Prime Ministership in the event of the party led NDA coming to power in 2014 are earlier as the political situation might develop. It is ironic that after the removal of Mr Nitin Gadkari as the BJP chief, his successor Mr Rajnath Singh had to encounter ‘Modi Lao’ campaign even before he could focus attention on other important issues including the organisational matters.
That amply explains the malady afflicting the BJP which is focused more on the projection or selection of its Prime Ministerial candidate even before strategising to first win elections and secure the requisite majority. Despite Mr Modi’s larger than life image and high voltage oratory, there is no surety at this juncture on whether he can lead the party to victory given the diversity of India’s voters.
There are tell-tale signs of vigorous push and pulls which the BJP is experiencing on the issue of projecting Mr Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate. This has become evident in the form of a raging debate between the Sangh Parivar on one hand and Mr Modi and his close friend and a top strategist Mr Arun Jaitley on the other.
Should he be projected as a Hindu icon, as the parivar wants him to be, or a ‘vikas purush’ as Mr Modi sees himself? This debate which even reverberated in Allahabad, during the ongoing Mahakumbh, with Hindu outfits such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad, RSS and certain religious heads throwing their weight behind Mr Modi as the future Prime Minister is going to get fierce by the day.
Even if Mr Modi may not like to be projected as Hindutava icon these organisations are hell-bent to do so. It is a publically known fact that there is no love lost between him and the top leaders of these Hindu organisations as he has marginalised them at least in Gujarat. Given Mr Modi’s image of a strong-headed leader and a loner, there is no guarantee that he will give these leaders their due once he comes to the top.
There is a buzz even within the BJP that there is a deliberate attempt in these quarters to project Mr Modi as a Hindutava leader so as to create a situation wherein he becomes unacceptable to the NDA allies. The cracks have already starting appearing within the NDA with one of its main allies JD-U repeatedly expressing opposition to any attempts by the BJP to project Mr Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate.
Outside the BJP, it is the second front on which Mr Modi will not only have to fight but make himself acceptable to the NDA allies. It is easier said than done. Most of the NDA allies such as the JD-U and potential partners like Biju Janata Dal, Telegu Desam and even Trinmool Congress bank on their secular credentials at the hustings. Whether they will accept Mr Modi as the NDA leader, less said the better.
There is a sense of non-seriousness on the manner in which the BJP is going around dealing with the leadership issue. While Mr Rajnath Singh’s elevation has for the time being resolved the issue of the party presidentship, the Prime Ministerial candidate debate at this juncture was uncalled for.
Selecting a Prime Ministerial candidate that too in the coalition era is a very sensitive issue as it requires lot of deliberations within the party and with the allies. No political party takes its most politically sensitive decision in the manner in which the BJP is going around.
Second, even if such a move were to be made, the vital question arises whether it would be beneficial for Mr Modi to be projected as a hardcore Hindutava icon when he himself has worked so hard to cultivate an image of a strong development oriented politician.
It is in this context that Modi supporters believe that his projection as Prime Ministerial candidate at the Kumbh is a deliberate ploy to portray him as Hindutava ideology poster boy by political rivals both inside and even outside of the BJP to restrict his appeal only to certain sections of the society.
Even the BJP president Mr Rajnath Singh’s repeated assertion that a decision on whether to project a PM candidate and whom to project can only be taken at the party’s Parliamentary Board is also conveying conflicting signals and is certainly not a factual position. The fact that he went to Mahakumbh on 6 February and interacted with the seers and VHP leaders on the leadership issue particularly focused on Mr Modi has further added to the confusion.
Furthermore, Mr Singh has more pressing issues to settle first – given the kind of abnormal situation which led to him being named to be the party President. His priority should have been to put a lid on the factional rumblings within the party and ensure proper coordination among its various wings. He has still to devote time to putting in place the new organisational structure which was co-terminus with the outgoing party president.
Senior party leaders say that after a recent extended lunch meeting between Modi and Singh in Delhi at the latter’s residence, it is almost sure that the two leaders are now acting in tandem.
Singh has also dropped enough hints that Modi would have a bigger say and role in the party’s organisational and policy issue. The appointment of Vasundhra Raje, former Rajathan chief minister, as the state BJP president and declaring that he would lead the party in next elections in the state is being seen as a move forward in this direction.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 11 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST
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