Accelerating its preparedness for the coming State Assembly elections in November, which would be followed by a general election, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday had a marathon session here of all the central and State leaders, including members of the 20-odd committees under the command of the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his capacity as the party’s national election campaign committee chief.
This is the first such exercise by the party since the party handed over the keys of party’s poll campaign in June to Mr. Modi, whose presence at the meeting ensured media attention though the six-hour-long deliberations were largely drab and rhetorical.
In his address, Mr. Modi claimed that 20 to 25 per cent of Muslims voted for the party in the recent Gujarat Assembly election and asserted that it was doable for the party in the rest of the country.
Party president Rajnath Singh spoke of the national mood which would make it possible to achieve what he termed as “Mission 272 +” for the Lok Sabha election to ensure formation of the next government. Going by the briefings by the party spokespersons and salient points of speeches of the BJP chief and Mr. Modi, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-led by BJP has not figured at all nor is there is any reference to poll allies.
It the context of the unusual resolution adopted by the BJP Bihar unit on Saturday demanding that Mr. Modi be declared as the party’s prime ministerial candidate, the BJP chief reportedly remarked that the party was aware of the mood of the rank and file and there was no need for such action.
The resolution has surprised several leaders in the party as the BJP president had earlier issued a diktat to the rank and file not to speculate on the subject till the central leadership took a view on it.
The BJP’s Bihar unit is the first State unit to publicly articulate its demand for Mr. Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. It has come at a juncture when some of the senior leaders in the party are still struggling to keep Mr. Modi out of the race.
While it appears certain that Mr. Modi would be the party’s prime ministerial face, there is a debate within the party on the timing of the announcement.
An influential lobby is pushing for an immediate announcement. However, particularly those who have not given up their prime ministerial aspirations are opposed to any such move.