The Bharatiya Janata Party, which was unable to get its own members on board over the nomination of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, has been able to easily secure support from the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal — two of its longstanding allies.
Ahead of the parliamentary board meeting, BJP chief Rajnath Singh had telephoned Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as well as SAD supremo Sukhbir Singh Badal.
By dint of sustained engagement with his party leaders, Mr. Singh was able to bring round Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and former party chief Murli Manohar Joshi. However, he has been unable to win veteran leader L.K. Advani over despite a number of meetings — including with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s intervention. Mr. Advani — and the other two formerly naysaying leaders — have maintained the announcement must wait till the conclusion of the Assembly elections — in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram — in November, where Mr. Modi’s pan-India appeal could be put to the test.
Mr. Advani’s aversion — he continues to nurse prime ministerial ambitions — to Mr. Modi’s anointment as PM candidate has been longstanding. For months, even before Mr. Modi was handed over the baton as the election campaign chief, Mr. Advani has been saying people are disappointed that the BJP has not been able tap into the disenchantment of the people with the UPA government.
Mr. Advani has contended that the party needs to take a re-look at its political agenda in an era of coalition politics where it has to emerge as the pole to accommodate several colours and hues of political parties. He has been advocating the formula of NDA + to broad base appeal of BJP to non-UPA and non-NDA parties.
Right choice: Sukhbir
Sarabjit Pandher writes from Chandigarh:
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal congratulated Mr. Modi and assured steadfast support to the Gujarat strongman’s campaign to “fulfil the desire of the people” to oust the “directionless” UPA government.
Earlier in the day, while interacting with reporters on the sidelines of a function, Mr. Badal described Mr. Modi as a capable leader whose “remarkable work in the development of Gujarat was being followed by many other States.”
Keywords: BJP parliamentary board meeting, Narendra Modi, Prime Ministerial candidate, Lok Sabha polls 2014, Rajnath Singh, Shiv Sena, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, L.K. Advani, Sushil Kumar Modi, M.M. Joshi