Former Bihar deputy chief minister and the state’s BJP chief Sushil Kumar Modi became the first top ranking leader within the saffron party to directly attack LK Advani for his opposition to Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial candidature.
"Advaniji has failed to gauge the public mood. Advaniji himself declared Atalji as PM candidate. Now also he could have done the same for Namo (Narendra Modi)," Sushil Modi wrote on Twitter on Wednesday night.
On Thursday, Sushil Kumar told a news channel the party cadres were overwhelmingly supporting the Gujarat chief minister.
“In my forty years of political life, I haven’t seen such enthusiasm among the party cadres. People want that BJP should announce Modi as the PM candidate,” the Bihar leader said.
After opposing Modi’s elevation as the BJP’s chief poll campaigner for the next Lok Sabha elections, Advani has told the senior leadership that anointing him as the PM candidate will spell a disaster for the party.
A BJP leader said that a few months ago, Sushil Modi was considered close to Advani and was a vocal supporter of the party patriarch within the BJP. But the changing equation in the party in favour of Narendra Modi forced him to take an anti-Advani stand.
But it appears the BJP has made up its mind about Modi and the announcement elevating him to the top post is expect to come any day.
However, hoping a consensus will be struck, BJP president Rajnath said prime ministerial nominee would be announced after "talking to everyone".
Party spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also tried to play down the internal division, saying: "Discussions are going on and we will announce the nominee soon. There is no contradiction in the party on who will be the prime ministerial candidate. All is well."
A formal announcement may be made Friday when the BJP parliamentary board meets to approve Modi's candidature. News reports said Advani is believed to have told Rajnath that he will register his protest at the meeting.
But a major concern for Rajnath Singh is to convince senior leaders Advani along with Sushma Swaraj, who are of the opinion that a decision on Modi's projection as prime ministerial candidate should be taken after the assembly polls in five states, said sources.
In case a general consensus among the parliamentary board does not emerge, Rajnath Singh can also make an announcement even without a parliamentary board meeting as he has the power to do so.
(With agency inputs)