BJP leaders likely to root for Modi

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Eighty-six-year-old BJP leader L.K. Advani’s repeated moves to position himself as the party’s prime ministerial candidate are likely to be thwarted in the forthcoming BJP national executive in Goa.
The office-bearers’ meeting on June 7 is likely to root for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the “most popular leader in the country”.
The office-bearers, gearing up to give a final snub to Mr Advani, are likely to make it clear that “his time is over as far as the race for the top post is concerned”, sources said. However, the Advani camp, which includes Ms Sushma Swaraj and Mr Ananth Kumar, is not yet ready to concede.
They, and others close to Mr Advani, feel “this is the BJP veteran’s last shot at the top post and he must not give up”.
Meanwhile, former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari has also rejected Mr Advani’s suggestion to head the overall campaign committee for the general elections, which many saw as the BJP veteran’s plan to scuttle Mr Modi’s chances as the Gujarat chief minister is expected to head this panel. Meanwhile, Mr Modi was to reach New Delhi later in the night to attend the government’s internal security meet scheduled for Wednesday.
Sources disclosed the office-bearers’ meeting in Goa, a day ahead of the two-day national executive, will be attended by parliamentary board members, state unit chiefs and state in-charges.
The BJP chief is expected to seek a final opinion on the Prime Minister candidate issue even though the name will not be announced.
A majority within the party is of the view that the party cadre might retaliate if Mr Modi is not declared the PM candidate, which would affect its poll prospects. Even opinion polls have predicted that the projection of Mr Modi as the PM candidate would significantly increase the saffron party’s numbers in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, with some even predicting 180-plus seats for the party.
Mr Advani had tried to run down Mr Modi last week when he had ranked Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s development model as better than Modi-ruled Gujarat’s. Mr Advani also compared Mr Chouhan with BJP patriarch A.B. Vajpayee, leaving Mr Modi supporters fuming. Finally, BJP chief Rajnath Singh went into damage control mode and asked Mr Advani not to make such statements.
Even though some NDA allies are not willing to support Mr Modi for the top post, the saffron cadre and a section within the party fully backs Mr Modi.
For a cadre-based party, the Bharatiya Janata Party cannot overlook popular sentiment, which is in favour of Mr Modi.
Though there is pressure on the BJP top brass to announce Mr Modi’s name for the top post before the Assembly polls scheduled for October-November, there is no consensus yet. This issue might also come up for discussion at the conclave in Goa.

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