key issues relating to chief Nitin Gadkari whose term is due to end soon and on projecting top BJP faces and issues for the elections.
An impressive and third consecutive win for Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and a victory in Himachal Pradesh could alter the dynamics within the party, both BJP and RSS leaders say — it could set the mood for Modi playing a big role at the national level.
Alternatively, not-so impressive results could call for other plans to prepare the party for the parliamentary elections, say insiders.
Notwithstanding a number of media reports about difficulties faced in Gujarat and Himachal, BJP managers, say they are confident of victories in both states.
Chief and the party
As for Gadkari's future, RSS and BJP leaders have to work out ways to project a united face, say BJP sources.
In view of the delay in the internal election process, Gadkari's term as chief won’t get over by December-end as many expected. Under BJP’s constitution, at least 50% of the 35 state units must complete their internal polls for the national president to be elected. So far only 8 have completed the process.
BJP general secretary Thwarchand Gehlot, returning officer for the internal elections, told HT that at least 22 to 28 units are expected to complete their elections by December 28.
The president’s poll schedule could be announced around January 10.
Gadkari’s first appointment on a three-year term was announced in December 2009. He took formal charge in January 2010. But it wasn’t until February first week, that the BJP's supreme body, the national council, formally endorsed his election as party chief.
The party statute was amended in October to allow a second term for a BJP president. The move was intended to help Gadkari continue in office. But a row over shares held by the Purti Group, once owned by his family, has put a question mark on his future. The RSS did not think Gadkari was guilty of wrong doing but some BJP leaders held that the episode robbed the party of its ability to take on the Congress.
As for who should be the face of the party in the run-up to 2014, the BJP and RSS are still divided on the strategy to be adopted. On December 7, Gadkari had said the BJP won’t canvass for any leader.
“I can say with authority as the party president that we will not project anybody before the elections and announce the PM candidate at the right time only. The BJP is a democratic party and decisions are taken collectively in consultation with all leaders and our allies.”
Gadkari’s assertion had come a day after senior leader Sushma Swaraj said candidacy for the PM’s post would depend on whether the election is won by an absolute majority or ends in a fractured verdict. She also said her view that Modi was fit for the job as PM was presented in a distorted manner.