Narendra Modi stands the best chance of becoming prime minister after the Lok Sabha elections and he alone will decide what course the BJP takes if it fails to get the required numbers on its own. This is the prevalent view in the RSS.
Top leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological parent, also dismissed speculation about a ‘Plan B’ in the BJP — the possibility of a more “acceptable” leader taking Modi’s place if the number don’t add up in favour of the designated PM candidate — as “empty talk”.
They said they didn’t see Modi not making it when all reports pointed to a huge surge in favour of the Modi-led BJP campaign. Their assessment was that Modi would make it “without difficulty”.
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“All this talk of Modi being replaced or somebody being appointed deputy PM is plain bunkum. Everything will depend on what Modi wants after the results,” an RSS insider said on Thursday. “Either it will be Modi as PM or the BJP decides to sit in the opposition. Modi will have the final say in consultation with others on the BJP’s next course of action.”
He added, “The RSS is clear that there should be no short cut to power. If you get the numbers, form the government. Otherwise, wait your turn. But we do not think such an eventuality is likely. The BJP is set for a comfortable win to form the government under Modi.”
The RSS’ views come in the backdrop of BJP circles being abuzz with post-poll possibilities and whether Modi would make way for someone else, be it LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj or even BJP president Rajnath Singh.
Talk of a “deputy PM” started after Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal suggested Arun Jaitley, the BJP’s Amritsar candidate, could be given that post in the event of an NDA government coming to power. Jaitely sought to play down the remark.
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On Wednesday, Madhya Pradesh tourism minister Surendra Patwa said Swaraj could be a future deputy PM.
Rajnath added to the buzz with two controversial tweets, the first saying “Ab ki baar, Bhajapa sarkar (time for a BJP government)” that he replaced 33 minutes later with “Ab ki baar, Modi sarkar (time for a Modi government)”.
“We do not think on these lines at all. This is pure speculation without any basis or support of the Sangh. Having led this campaign, it will have to be Modi who takes the final call. There is no doubt about that,” said another RSS insider.
The RSS has also not taken kindly to the crisis in the BJP over ticket distribution —with Advani expressing a sudden desire to shift to Bhopal, Swaraj tweeting her opposition to the selection process and expressing “sadness” over veteran Jaswant Singh being denied the Barmer seat.
The Sangh leaders were keen to emphasise that neither RSS chief Mohan Bhagat, nor his deputy Bhaiyaaji Joshi had any role in these issues.
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