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Modi popularity, RSS kept MP CM out of BJP panel

delhi Updated: Apr 02, 2013 02:14 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
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Huge support for Narendra Modi among cadres, only one vacant slot, internal party play and a possible hidden RSS hand - all worked together to keep Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan out of the BJP's highest decision-making body.

Senior leaders LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj wanted Chouhan in the BJP parliamentary board as well but on Sunday, party chief Rajnath Singh only chose Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.

Chouhan is seen as a successful CM by many within and outside the party, someone capable of giving competition to Modi.

Singh decided to include Modi alone - as he put it - to acknowledge the growing chorus for a bigger role for the Gujarat strongman after his third straight win in the western state.

Secondly, there was only one vacancy in the 12-member board.

A second name would have meant removing one of the sitting members which could have been read as an attempt at stealing Modi's thunder and triggered another controversy, sources close to Singh said.

Chouhan could always be considered later and in any case, he would be tied up with assembly elections due November, said sources. But BJP insiders believe there's more to it.

They say Chouhan's exclusion may have something to do with growing numbers of detractors of the CM within the state unit and Suresh Soni, RSS' pointsman for the BJP.

Soni has been cut up with Chouhan after his associate Prabhat Jha was denied second term as the party's state chief in December.

CM's confidant Narendra Singh Tomar replaced Jha, which reportedly didn't go down well with Soni.

Chouhan picked Tomar as Jha was being seen as a possible rival to him.

Soni, who played a key role in Nitin Gadkari's ouster and Singh's appointment as the BJP chief, had his way on Sunday.

Jha was picked as one of the 13 vice-presidents by Singh, who also offered the same position to another Chouhan detractor, former chief minister Uma Bharti.

One of Chouhan's ministers, Kailash Vijayvargiya, was made a permanent invitee to the BJP's national executive.

To add to the CM's woes, former BJP ideologue KN Govindacharya said in Bhopal on Monday that the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh was more corrupt than the previous Congress government led by Digvijaya Singh.