Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Rajnath Singh held an hour-long discussion on Sunday on the future course of the party ahead of the 2014 polls.
Chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi (L), hugs BJP president Rajnath Singh during BJP national council meeting in New Delhi. HT photo/Raj K Raj
The fact that their meeting took place at Singh’s residence after curtains fell on the BJP’s conclave led to speculations about its outcome and the future role of the Gujarat strongman.
What is significant is that they met against the backdrop of the conclave’s closing session in which BJP leader LK Advani ignored Modi in large chunks of his valedictory address, choosing instead to praise other top leaders, including Sushma Swaraj.
BJP sources did not say whether Modi and Singh discussed this development, which was quickly read as Advani’s disapproval of any move to declare the Gujarat CM for the prime minister’s post.
In 2006, Singh inducted Modi to BJP’s parliamentary board. A year later, he dropped him as no other BJP CM was a member. Singh, on his return as BJP chief, told HT that he did not think it was right to drop Modi on that ground. Insiders say the big question is whether Modi himself would like to be in the elite club.
Modi, true to his style, is yet to reveal his desires. Alternatively, Singh may contemplate forming a top panel that will directly take charge of the 2014 campaign, and Modi would either lead or be part of it.
Advani could push for Swaraj’s name, but can he oppose Modi if the RSS wants the BJP’s parliamentary board to name him? The answer could, perhaps, be yes but it also depends when the board takes up the issue. If it is to be settled by the BJP board alone, Modi could face muted opposition, not just from Advani and Swaraj but other senior leaders too, BJP insiders say.
Advani's insistence on Swaraj’s preeminence may not favour Modi, but the mood of party cadres could push things beyond the BJP patriarch’s influence and control, BJP sources added.