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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Wooed and pressured, but Advani won't budge on Modi

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 12, 2013
First Published: 11:12 IST(12/9/2013) | Last Updated: 13:27 IST(12/9/2013)

Party patriarch LK Advani continues to be a stumbling block for the BJP in finalising the name of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.

In a hectic last-minute effort to show solidarity within party ranks, BJP head Rajnath Singh met Advani on Wednesday to convince him to accept the elevation of the chief minister as the party’s PM candidate, something that is anticipated within days.

However, the meeting failed to break the impasse, with the patriarch sticking to his stand against an early announcement.

“Advani ji reiterated his reservations to Rajnath Singh just as he had to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Suresh (Bhaiyyaji) Joshi earlier,” a leader close to Advani said.

The patriarch, who hasn’t shed ambitions for the top post yet, is seen to believe that Modi’s projection would create problems within the party and with potential allies.

Leaders opposed to Modi say the decision may get delayed to Advani’s stand, but others think the party will move ahead with or without his consent.

While there were speculations that the announcement of Modi may take place as early as September 13 or 16, those close to Advani deny that the party chief mentioned either date in his conversations.

A day earlier, Nitin Gadkari had also met Advani.

While Advani and Sushma Swaraj are known to be against an early elevation of Modi, the larger view within the party favours an early announcement. And so does the RSS, which has also made its position amply clear.

Party leaders feel that an early announcement would help Modi prepare in advance for the polls, and would also silence voices of dissent within the party.

However, some sceptics still say that in case the BJP doesn’t garner enough Lok Sabha seats under Modi and an alternative candidate has to be projected to expand the NDA, it’ll damage the chief minister’s future national prospects.

Sources said that if Modi gets elevated now, he may have to relinquish charge as campaign committee chief.


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