iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 31, 2013
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Saturday pitched for early announcement of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, and also cautioned against the raking up of controversy around the issue. Speaking at a party’s legal and legislative cell conclave in the capital, Jaitley said, “Leadership is an issue affecting the UPA, due to which people are looking at the BJP.

“Parliamentary elections at times also become like presidential elections, especially when the leader enjoys overwhelming popularity. This has happened in the case of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.”

He suggested that it was better for the party if it announced its PM candidate soon, which was seen as a clear statement in favour of the elevation of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi from the party’s campaign committee chief to its formal PM candidate. He pointed out that if the next election became a referendum on leadership, the BJP would surely win.

Jaitley also cautioned against controversy within the party on the issue, saying doing so would be to get out by “hit-wicket”. This, he added, could even become the only possible reason for the BJP losing the polls.

He was confident that the mood in the country was pro-BJP.

Influential sections of the BJP leadership are considering early naming of Modi as the PM candidate to reap the gains of his  “popularity”, but party patriarch LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj are seen to be against an early decision. However, the pro-announcement camp is expanding, and sources say an announcement is indeed likely.