Can Narendra Modi, Gujarat chief minister, and Nitin Gadkari, BJP president, heal the deep divisions among BJP ranks? Yes, feels
The RSS, which always pulls the strings to get the BJP toe its line, wants Modi and Gadkari to function like the venerable Vajpayee-Advani combine and turn the tide in BJP’s favour in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Once Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former prime minister, retired from public life, his comrade, LK Advani, never quite managed to scale the poll bastion and bring the BJP to power at the Centre.
Now that Modi has emerged as the most popular BJP chief minister and party president Gadkari has kept the RSS happy by “following its diktats”, it makes sense that they work together as a team, a senior party functionary said.
The going is expected to be smooth as both have a common RSS background and have hardly had any differences to date, he said. Advani is old and his charisma is on the wane though he can still hold sway over the masses. So, it is important that the party comes up with a credible next generation leader before the LS elections, the functionary said.
While it is true that Sanjay Joshi’s ouster from the national executive at the behest of Modi did not go down well with the party top brass, several senior leaders admit, reluctantly, that only the Gujarat CM can be the BJP’s poster boy.
“In the past, Advani functioned as the organisation man while Vajpayee was the face of the party,” another functionary said. “They might have had separate ambitions, but they always worked as a team.”
But will everyone accept Modi as the prime ministerial candidate? The recent Sanjay Joshi episode showed that the RSS was tilted towards Modi. But that should not be construed as an endorsement of Modi as the BJP’s PM candidate, he said.
Though Modi has worked wonders for Gujarat in terms of business, his biggest undoing could be his “role” in the Gujarat riots, following the Godhra train burning, which has always been under the scanner.
The party hopes that Modi would take a realistic approach while harbouring prime ministerial ambitions. If the NDA, headed by the BJP, comes to power in 2014, a candidate for the PM’s post would depend on how much he/she is acceptable to other political parties.
When Vajpayee became the prime minister, he had the support of all NDA constituents. The same might not happen with Modi, the functionary said.
“Our word will be final only if we have more than 225 seats in 2014 and don’t have to depend on parties such as the JD(U),” he said. “If we don’t have the numbers, we would have to depend on the support of our allies. Naturally, their views will have to be considered.”
Also, almost two years are left for the LS elections. Several political developments can happen in this time and those would surely have an impact on the choice of the candidate for the PM’s post, he said.