Harder for Advani to stop Modi now

With Lal Krishna Advani virtually capitulating, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi seems to have emerged stronger in the BJP. With the complete backing of the RSS and the entire party cadre, it will now be more difficult for the “weakened” Advani camp to prevent his rise within the party, sources said.
The BJP’s rapid “Modification” has also alarmed his detractors, particularly those in the Advani camp. Mr Modi’s record shows all his detractors, who were once powerful BJP leaders like Shankersingh Vaghela, Keshubhai Patel and Haren Pandya, had faded into political oblivion. Mr Vaghela even left the party.
Mr Advani’s hard-earned title of “Lauh Purush” (iron man) is also in danger with Mr Modi announcing a nationwide campaign to collect small pieces of iron from farmers to use to build a proposed “Statue of Unity” in memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s original “iron man”.
At Tuesday’s press conference at Mr Advani’s residence, the patriarch’s virtual surrender was announced in front of hardcore supporters like Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti, Jaswant Singh, Balbir Punj, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Shahnawaz Hussain and Ananth Kumar.
Sources said Mr Modi, along with BJP president Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley, are now likely to take all major policy decisions regarding the forthcoming elections. Mr Modi is expected to start his nationwide tour soon after the monsoon.
Mr Modi, who would initially try to offer an olive branch to his rivals, tweeted after Mr Advani’s retraction on Tuesday: “I had said yesterday that Advaniji will not disappoint lakhs of karyakartas. Today I wholeheartedly welcome his decision!” Despite this gesture, questions are being asked on whether Mr Modi and Mr Advani will be able to coexist in the party. Sources said Mr Modi ”is not known to toe any line, and will eventually chart his own course in the party”.
It may be recalled that even a powerful leader like Atal Behari Vajpayee had failed to take on Mr Modi after the 2002 Gujarat communal carnage. Despite Mr Vajpayee’s open criticism that Mr Modi failed in his “rajdharma”, the entire BJP and RSS rallied around the Gujarat CM, making it evident he had emerged the “absolute power” in the state.
Mr Modi not merely survived Mr Vajpayee’s attempts to dethrone him, he later took on the Sangh Parivar in his state. The RSS and VHP had begun considering him the “main enemy” in Gujarat. In the last Assembly elections, the RSS had covertly campaigned against Mr Modi.
But today the Sangh Parivar views Mr Modi as the “only leader who can get the party back to power at the Centre”, a source said. RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, who had once opposed Mr Modi’s rise, is seen rallying around him. Top RSS and BJP leaders feel any move to “marginalise Modi” will turn the party cadre against them, the plight Mr Advani appears to be in at this juncture.

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