What a difference an electoral defeat can make. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is being targeted – this time not by secular and civil society activists, but by sections of his own party.
At a meeting of senior BJP leaders in Delhi on Monday morning, an angry Modi, who has, apparently, gone from being the party’s alternative prime ministerial candidate to fall guy in a matter of three days, lashed out against what he called “an attempt to shift the blame for the party’s defeat on me”.
Modi later met some senior RSS leaders with his angst. Many BJP leaders said the campaign against Modi is directly connected with the power struggle among the party’s second-generation leaders in anticipation of the imminent retirement of the old guard. Many of his colleagues are wary of his following among the party’s rank and file.
Soon after BJP president Rajnath Singh announced L.K. Advani’s decision to continue as Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Modi got up and complained loudly: “The party had engaged my services in the campaign and I had worked very hard for it. Despite this, some leaders are planting stories against me. You used my services and now want to dump me. This is totally unfair and unacceptable.”
He then reeled off statistics to “substantiate” his claim that the party had done well in places where he had campaigned. Modi had campaigned extensively for the BJP in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa, among other states. The party’s tally in all these states has dipped below its 2004 levels. In Gujarat, his home base, the BJP could improve its score by only two.
There have been media reports comparing this lacklustre performance with Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s success in reviving the Congress in UP and helping engineer the UPA’s return to power.
“Not a single leader has spoken out against this malicious campaign,” he said, but declined to name anyone.
Rajnath Singh then assured him that the issue would be taken up during the Chintan Shivir (Introspection Camp) that the BJP would hold soon.
Besides Advani and Singh, senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi, Vijay Goel and some BJP chief ministers attended the meeting.
Modi later told a TV channel: “There is no full stop in politics and my future will be what the people of Gujarat want it to be. I will serve them honestly.”