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Is Advani ‘Plan B’ if Modi doesn’t get LS numbers?

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 21, 2013
First Published: 00:14 IST(21/12/2013) | Last Updated: 17:21 IST(21/12/2013)

Even though the BJP has made up its mind on Narendra Modi, who has drawn in large crowds, as the PM in case the party manages to rake up numbers in its favour in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, senior leader LK Advani’s announcement that he would contest from Gandhinagar may again trigger speculations about a Plan B in the party.

In the event of the BJP failing to win enough number of seats, it may be forced to look for the most acceptable face that can bring in more allies. That role could go to Advani, party chief Rajnath Singh or Opposition leaders in current Parliament — Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley — to enable the party cross the half-way mark of 272 seats.

Modi may himself not stand in the way of BJP trying to form the government to keep out the Congress.

Right now, those close to Modi say he is too concerned about the BJP’s Mission 272+ to lose his energy on preventing any senior leaders from contesting. Rather, he would want the party’s focus pinned to his pet slogan, “Congress mukt Bharat”.

BJP insiders, however, say that search for another leader is a remote possibility because the party is optimistic about victory under Modi.

“The BJP will not go back on the promises (making Modi as PM),” BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao said in Coimbatore on Friday, in sharp retort to speculations that suggested otherwise.

An RSS insider also quipped, “Do you think after contesting under Modi’s leadership, the BJP will opt for another leader? It will rather choose to sit in the opposition and let others try their experiment which is not bound to last. The BJP has done just that in Delhi.”

RSS attributes the BJP’s recent good results in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the unprecedented “Modi effect”.

Nevertheless, Advani’s announcement makes it clear that no one can oppose his decision to contest — even if the RSS wants seniors to bid goodbye to electoral politics. Others including MM Joshi, Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha are sure to contest again.

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