Congress Party leader Rashid Alvi on Tuesday mocked at reports of BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi calling a meeting of Gujarat BJP leaders to choose his successor as state chief minister.
"See, I believe and I want to assure everyone that Narendra Modi will continue to remain chief minister of Gujarat. He will run the state as the people of Gujarat have given him that responsibility, and he should stick to that responsibility," said Alvi. After voting ended for India's nine-phased general election on May 12, exit polls showed the BJP and its allies would touch the half-way mark in the 543-member Lower House of the parliament, while the Congress Party, in power for the past decade, would face its worst-ever defeat.
If BJP comes to power, Modi will have to quit as Gujarat chief minister. Senior Gujarat BJP leader Anandiben Patel is most likely to be chosen as the next state chief minister, given her over decade-and-a-half stint as minister.
Reportedly, the other names doing the rounds are Amit Shah, Nitinbhai Patel, Saurabh Patel, R.C. Faldu, Surendra Patel, Parshottam Rupala, Vajubhai Vala and Bhikhubhai Dalsania. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) general secretary Tariq Anwar said: "This is an internal matter of Bharatiya Janata Party. They have to decide who will be the chief minister of Gujarat if Modi becomes the Prime Minister. BJP will decide what they have to do."
The polls have consistently shown voters favouring Modi, a divisive but charismatic figure, to lead the country - gaining a march over his main opponent Rahul Gandhi, the political heir of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty appointed to lead the Congress campaign.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has benefited from a wave of public anger over corruption scandals and a slowing economy under the ruling Congress, which may be facing one of its weakest-ever showings at the polls. Campaigning mainly on promises to create jobs and restore India to a path of high economic growth, Modi - whose critics accuse him of harbouring Hindu supremacist views - has largely steered clear of religion.
Modi's oratory skills and high-tech campaign have made him a solid favourite in opinion polls to unseat the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty from New Delhi. Indian elections are notoriously hard to predict, however, due to the country's diverse electorate and a parliamentary system in which local candidates hold great sway and translating vote share into actual seats won is not always reliable. Results are due to be announced on May 16.