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HindustanTimes Sun,13 Jul 2014

Polls: Modi it is, but when?

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 30, 2013
First Published: 00:23 IST(30/1/2013) | Last Updated: 00:58 IST(30/1/2013)

The role for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2014 polls may well turn out to be the BJP's worst-kept secret.

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Everybody important in the party thinks that Modi has to be projected as the BJP prime ministerial candidate. However, barring a few top party leaders, nobody knows when his name will be formally declared.

Among themselves, these leaders believe that the “right time” for Modi's anointment should be when the elections are "round the corner".

Whether the polls are held as scheduled in April-May of 2014 or earlier, many BJP leaders would like the announcement of Modi to act as a catalytic change to the political environment.

Any "pre-mature" declaration, argue some BJP strategists, could be counter-productive because it would give Modi's detractors within the BJP and outside enough time to thwart the move.

Also, Modi's ascent could lose its shine if he got bogged down on a "defensive" strategy. "The timing is everything in any election," said a key BJP leader. "But everyone knows what's on the cards. Ever our allies do, perhaps."

Another senior BJP leader told a potential ally, "We will do it just before the elections."

What will be the role of senior BJP patriarch LK Advani? Will he step forward, like former finance minister Yashwant Sinha and eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani, to openly endorse Modi's candidature? 

The RSS, BJP's ideological parent, has already made it clear that it won't be a stumbling block to "whatever it takes (including Modi's candidature)" for the party to win the 2014 polls.

"Neither would the cadres accept any other name, nor would they be enthused to work for anyone else for BJP's victory," a party functionary said.

Nevertheless, the BJP would have to go through a "process" to pick Modi's name, so no feathers are ruffled and "everyone gets a say in selecting the prime ministerial candidate".

In the meantime, Rajnath's immediate challenge lies in reviving the organisation, assuaging RSS backers of Nitin Gadkari and ensuring greater participation of Modi in  election campaigns.


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