Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi taking centre stage in last week’s national executive meeting and Karnataka’s former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa’s repeated call to project the former as the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate have added problems for BJP president Nitin Gadkari ahead of 2014 general elections.
Gadkari, set to continue as party president for another three years following the amendment to the BJP’s Constitution carried out in the absence of party veteran L K Advani, former president Murli Manohar Joshi and BJP’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde, cannot anymore neglect Modi. His accomodation in the party’s central parliamentary panel would be inevitable ahead of the next parliamentary polls.
On top of it, advice by the Shiv Sena, the BJP’s electoral ally in Maharashtra for over two decades, that the BJP cannot sideline Modi on key decisions, has clearly indicated it has extended tacit support to Modi as the next prime minister. This has certainly made Gadkari’s wicket sticky, spoiling his plan for a smooth entry into the Lok Sabha after the 2014 elections and thereby projecting him as one of the candidates for the prime minister.
Modi’s attack against the Congress-led UPA government was well received by party members at the public rally organised on the concluding day of the national executive meet. The Gujarat chief minister succeeded in his strategy to reiterate his involvement in preparing the party organisation to consolidate its position across the country by exploiting the UPA’s failures ahead of 2014 elections. Further, Modi also had his way after Gadkari compelled confidant and RSS pracharak Sanjay Joshi to resign from the national executive.
A BJP executive member who did not want to be identified told Business Standard, “Despite the recent campaign initiated by the BJP’s disgruntled leaders from Gujarat against Modi and the criticism by the Congress party for allegedly inciting the 2002 riots, Narendrabhai is one of the most acceptable leaders not only to the party but to people across the country. The party will have to stand behind him like a solid rock, especially when there are Assembly elections in Gujarat. The party will have to use Modi’s charisma at the national level and not restrict it to Gujarat.”
He said Gadkari needs to increase further rapport with Modi as the two could become the party’s Ram and Laxman for victory in the next general elections.
A former Union minister said the BJP had emerged as a genuine alternative to the Congress under the leadership of A B Vajpayee and L K Advani and it had given an opportunity to Modi and Gadkari to take the party to greater heights by assuming power in Delhi.
“Advani has made very valid observation that people by and large do not have faith that the BJP can be a genuine alternative to the Congress. and, therefore, he exhorted party members to do everything to win the confidence of people and meet their aspirations. In carrying out Advani’s desire, Modi-Gadkari combine in particular and host of other leaders can perform miracles, provided the party is able to put up a united show instead of a fragmented one,” he added.