Absence of elders, openness behind rows in BJP

  • Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 14, 2014 08:52 IST
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Eighty-year-old Murli Manohar Joshi won’t have felt so bad vacating Varanasi for Narendra Modi if “someone” had spoken to him before than leaving the matter open till the last minute.

Patriarch LK Advani won’t have been miffed if his name as a candidate from Gandhinagar had been declared in the first list released on February 27.

Senior leader Sushma Swaraj, face of opposition in the last Lok Sabha, objected to new entrants, like Ram Vilas Paswan, or tie-ups with the Telugu Desam Party.

Read: BJP declares third list, fields Ram Kripal Yadav from Patliputra

Also, the tension brewing in the Bihar and Maharashtra units over the new entrants from rival RJD or Janata Dal(U) could have been handled with ease by taking local leaders on board.

Some BJP leaders who think that in the absence of a moral authority like Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Advani — who is no longer playing such a role — the tussles are inevitable.

“There is no Vajpayee-Advani combine as the final authority today. There is no personality like Kushabhau Thakre (former BJP chief) who can exercise a moral influence,” says a BJP functionary.

Read: BJP announces second list for Lok Sabha polls

Therefore, it is left to party president Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and Swaraj herself and RSS interlocutors to sort out differences.

Given the perception of his image, Modi thinks he should not be seen as trying to force his decisions on the BJP, say insiders. Therefore, he prefers that others reach a conclusion even as he conveys to them what he thinks is the “right” course.

At the party’s parliamentary board meeting, the leaders realised that the issue of Modi contesting from Varanasi or Joshi shifting to Kanpur is not such a contentious problem as it may have been made out to be.

Read: Gadkari, Shanta Kumar in BJP's first list for LS polls

Whether it is Lalji Tandon, who may have to vacate the Lucknow seat for Rajnath Singh, or Kalraj Mishra who has to “sacrifice” his claim over Kanpur, the UP leaders want their Delhi colleagues to “talk” to them to end the “impasse.”

At the same time, those backing Modi say the senior leaders who opposed Modi’s projection as the PM candidate must also not give an impression that they are working against the NDA achieving a comfortable tally.

Read: Key constituencies across the country

Many would still credit Rajnath Singh with trying his best to appear less factional in decision-making. But BJP insiders expect the establishment “to travel a little more distance.”

Modi’s managers point to the successful manner in which veteran Yashwant Sinha bowed out in favour of his son in Hazaribagh as a sign of things to come.

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The main challenge now is to ensure that the “Modi wave” is allowed to bring results by picking up the right candidates without upsetting the caste balance in UP.

Read: In first Lok Sabha list, AAP takes on Congress big guns, mum on Modi opponent

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