Organiser editorial wants NDA unity

Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (United) seemed headed towards divorce, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh intervened on Sunday to give a message to the JD(U). In an editorial, the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, said that Narendra Modi had so far only been appointed to a party “forum” and had not been declared the Prime-minsterial candidate. “Undoubtedly, the question of declaring [the] Prime Ministerial candidate does not arise at this moment, as the polls have not yet been declared,” the editorial said, adding “in this situation, arm-twisting by the JD(U) is not good for the country.”

The editorial, however, inserted a significant caveat to this position by asserting that Mr. Modi was the “most suitable person who can lead the nation on the path of progress and prosperity.” The editorial said in his time Atal Bihari Vajpayee had topped all the opinion polls and his popularity had benefited the NDA. Similarly, all the current polls showed that Mr. Modi was the preferred choice of urban voters, it claimed.

“Now the focus is on Narendra Modi because of his excellent performance in Gujarat and his popularity in the cousntry.” Further, “…the urban voters are clearly in favour of Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate with 38 per cent preferring him over 13 per cent and 14 per cent for Dr. Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi respectively.”

The editorial drew three “important” messages from the polls. First, that Manmohan Singh faced a credibility crisis and his honest image “has been badly bruised following the unprecedented record of scams and controversies.” The second that if the NDA remained united and worked as a “formidable force it can easily get back power at the Centre.” And third, that Mr. Modi could be a winner for the NDA.

The timing of the editorial is significant because Nitish Kumar has wanted a public assertion from the BJP that Mr. Modi will not be its Prime Ministerial nominee. The RSS editorial meets this condition partially. It assures Mr. Kumar that no decision has been taken on the NDA’s Prime Ministerial choice, which is an indirect promise that the JD(U) will be on board on the decision.

The editorial also underscores the importance of a united NDA to defeat the United Progressive Alliance. This is at variance with opinion in a section of the BJP that the party can go it alone under Mr. Modi’s leadership. But obviously senior leaders such as Sushma Swaraj know that a break up with the JD(U) would send out a wrong signal to potential allies who might see this as unilateralism by the BJP. That is exactly why important leaders rushed to placate Lal Krishna Advani, who resigned from key BJP posts protesting the hurried elevation of Mr. Modi in the Goa national executive. Ms. Swaraj twice tweeted that the NDA must stay united. Those in the BJP who want the party to be a part of a strong and united NDA will see the RSS editorial as an endorsement of their stand.

But obviously, the RSS seems conscious of the need to keep in mind Mr. Modi’s popularity with the BJP cadre. Hence its attempt to walk the tight rope by eulogising the Gujarat CM on one side and telling the JD(U) on the other that he has not been declared the Prime Ministerial candidate.

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