A day after BJP chief Rajnath Singh played down senior party leader LK Advani’s remarks last weekend that put down Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, moves appeared to be afoot to accord an important role for him in the party’s campaign for the 2014 polls.
Meanwhile, Advani's plans to push former BJP president Nitin Gadkari to head an election management committee for state elections has run aground. Gadkari has reportedly made it clear that he does not want to take sides in the battle between the camps that are for and against Modi and he would abide by whatever work Singh gave him.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday that Modi's popularity among party cadres “is self-evident”. Jaitley's comment, like Singh's praise of Modi as the most popular leader, underscored serious efforts to ensure that the Gujarat CM took charge as chief campaigner, heading the BJP’s poll committee, which could come up after a Goa conclave June 8-9.
Jaitley told NDTV that “Modi is a popular leader, not just in the BJP but outside of it as well and that he will have a very important place in the BJP’s campaign for 2014 general elections… there is a groundswell of support which is building up... I personally believe that Modi's popularity is very high.”
Stating that while choosing a PM candidate is challenging, Jaitely said the BJP would take its decision on the prime minister candidate, keeping in mind all factors in view--the mood of the people, alliances, cadres and the momentum that is built up as the polls come nearer.
Referring to reports about Advani opposing Modi by describing his achievements a notch lower than Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Jaitley said, "It is very easy to misinterpret a speech (by Advani). Today, Madhya Pradesh has roads, 24 hours electricity and better infrastructure. MP is a turnaround story with 10% growth rate. MP is not a BIMARU state...”