Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is eying a bigger national leadership role and is positioning himself for a power struggle in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), say US diplomatic cables made public by online whistleblower Wikileaks.
“Modi is using his strong base in Gujarat to position himself for the BJP power struggle and to crow about Gujarat's investment-friendly (but certainly not minority-friendly) record,” says one of the cables which were uploaded earlier this week by Wikileaks.
The cables sent by US diplomats in New Delhi focus on Modi's rising stature in the BJP and claim that “Modi has his eyes on bigger things”.
In an assessment going back to 2005, the cables suggest Modi could be the most popular BJP leader and a potential PM candidate. “Anecdotal evidence suggests Modi could be the most popular leader in the BJP and there is increasing momentum to make him the party figurehead and next choice of PM,” says a cable sent after Modi was denied a US visa in 2005.
The cable also claims that the BJP's move to make Modi the prime ministerial candidate would unite the secular parties.
“In a BJP beset by internal struggle, Modi's revival sets him up nicely to influence the kingmaking when the time comes. Having recovered from the crisis invoked by our visa revocation and his tyrannical management style, Modi is positioning himself as a national leader by reminding people that Gujarat has done a fine job of economic governance, notwithstanding the black stain the (2002) riots left,” the cable says.
“At present, Modi appears stronger than at any time,” it added.
Modi was a star campaigner for the BJP in the 2009 elections which the Congress and its allies won.
Alluding to the cancellation of the visa application, the cables say Modi bears permanent resentment against the US for the “humiliation”.