If the BJP’s national executive in Goa began by being all about Gujarat chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, it also ended on Sunday by being all about him.
He has got what he came to Goa for, the position of the chairman of the central campaign committee of the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections 2014. This has come in the teeth of opposition from powerful people in his own party.
And perhaps no one more powerful than the party’s patriarch LK Advani who made his displeasure at the proposal to elevate Mr Modi so clear that he chose to stay away from the Goa conclave. Now that there is no ambiguity about who will lead the charge, the pressure on Mr Modi to deliver is enormous.
First he will find that there are many in his party who will be all too glad to trip him up whenever possible. Second he will have to carry his party’s NDA allies like JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar along with him. The Gujarat chief minister has cast himself as an architect of development. But the shadow of the 2002 Gujarat riots is something that his detractors have not yet let him forget.
There is also the criticism of his development model being more focused on big industry and not the economically disadvantaged. Mr Advani who had come up with a number of alternatives to Mr Modi has for the moment been sidelined. But it is unlikely that Mr Advani will take this snub lying down.
After all, he built the BJP as we know it today along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He will not want to go out without a reassertion of his authority. Mr Modi will have to change considerably if he is to even carry his own party with him; he is known to be an exclusive rather than inclusive figure.
His foray into Karnataka recently did not do much to change the party’s fortunes. So he does have his limitations, the most prominent being that he is not yet an all India figure in the mould of Mr Advani and Mr Vajpayee.
There are many who are not happy with the manner in which Mr Advani has been sidelined and these are powerful people. By referring to prominent leaders of the erstwhile Jana Sangh such as Deendayal Upadhyaya and Syama Prasad Mukherjee in his speech, Mr Modi seems to be trying to supplant the leaders who created the modern BJP, namely Mr Advani.
This will be seen as disrespect in a party where elders are held in high esteem. What we did not see in the Goa conclave was a game plan for the BJP in its electoral march forward. But then maybe now that he is in the saddle, Mr Modi will spell it out.