At the end of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s two-day conclave, it appears certain that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will soon be named the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate. On Monday, there were indications that a formal announcement on the issue could be expected either at the end of this week or early next week.
The BJP Parliamentary Board, the party’s highest decision-making body, is likely to approve Mr. Modi’s candidature at a meeting to be convened here. The pro-Modi camp is keen that Mr. Modi be declared the party’s choice for the top post before September 20 as the fortnight after that is considered ‘inauspicious’.
Declaring the Gujarat Chief Minister the party’s face for the forthcoming general election would mark the culmination of the process that began in the second week of June, when the National Executive named Mr. Modi the party’s National Election Committee chief, ignoring protests from senior party leaders such as L.K. Advani.
In the last few days some senior leaders of BJP, including Mr. Advani, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and the former party president, Murli Manohar Joshi, made a strong case for delaying the announcement till elections to the five State Assemblies are over.
In a rare initiative, RSS sanghsarchalak Mohan Bhagwat, a Modi admirer, has been personally engaged in consultations with all the BJP leaders who are resisting the Gujarat Chief Minister’s candidature. Talking to reporters here, RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya asserted that there were no differences in the BJP over the leadership issue. “If there is any turmoil (on the issue), it was not visible here,” he said when asked if there was any turmoil in the party over the issue.
In a bid to convince Mr. Advani and Ms. Swaraj, RSS general secretary Suresh ‘Bhaiyya ji’ Joshi met them separately last week. This was followed by a dinner meeting between Mr. Bhagwat, Mr. Advani and Ms. Swaraj.
On Saturday Mr. Vaidya said the RSS had already made its position clear on the key issue and it was for the BJP to take a decision. “The Sangh has already made its position clear. Sangh has already informed the party. The party knows it. It is for the party to decide who to declare and when to decide so. I will not say this here,” he said.
The objective of the RSS conclave is to gather all its frontal organisations under one roof to discuss a strategy on how they can mobilise support for the BJP before the general election.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and VHP leader Praveen Togadia attended the meeting on Monday, while Mr. Modi and Mr. Advani were in attendance on Sunday.