BJP inching towards Modi for PM announcement

    By IANS,

    New Delhi: The BJP appeared to be inching closer towards announcing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, possibly on Friday, even as party chief Rajnath Singh continued efforts to bring on board leaders who want the decision to be deferred till the assembly polls.

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    Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sources said that the decision on Modi’s elevation would be announced “soon” and could happen Friday.

    Rajnath Singh said that all senior leaders were being consulted on the issue and sought to downplay reservations of senior party leader L.K. Advani on declaring Modi as prime ministerial candidate.

    “No one is miffed with anyone. ..We will decide after talking to everyone and will make the announcement at the appropriate time,” he told reporters here earlier in the day.

    As part of efforts at building consensus, the BJP chief Thursday evening met Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who, like Advani, is learnt to have reservations on a decision on prime ministerial candidate before the assembly polls to five states.

    Rajnath Singh did not speak to the waiting media after the meeting and did not give an indication if he had been successful.

    Sources said that Rajnath Singh was keen to avoid a showdown at the parliamentary board meeting and was a trying to build a broad consensus. Party leader Ananth Kumar had also met Sushma Swaraj after calling on Advani and then met the party chief.

    The sources said that parliamentary board meeting could be held Monday if it is not held Friday.

    Rajnath Singh had Wednesday met Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi as part of efforts to build a consensus.

    Earlier, former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi made a veiled criticism of Advani.

    “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 tweeted Wednesday night.

    Narendra Modi is the chief of party’s campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

    G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, a member of BJP’s national executive, said the party leadership was trying to reach a consensus and admitted there were leaders who did not favour Modi.

    However, he indicated that the party was willing to make the announcement despite the reservations of these leaders.

    “Hope there is consensus in parliamentary board. If not, the majority decision will prevail,” Narasimha Rao said.

    BJP has maintained that a decision on prime ministerial candidate would be taken by the parliamentary board.

    Party leaders said Rajnath Singh may, as an exception, make an announcement on Narendra Modi after consulting members of the board individually.

    The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological fountainhead of BJP, has given its opinion on the issue of prime ministerial candidate to the party, and there is also pressure from supporters of Narendra Modi for an early decision.

    “What the party would be doing tomorrow is only formalising a decision taken,” a party leader said.

    Those pushing for Narendra Modi’s elevation as prime ministerial candidate feel that it will help build momentum against the Congress and help crystallise people’s mood in favour of the party.

    But Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was close to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee besides Advani, Thursday accused Narendra Modi of polarising his own party and questioned his ability to head a stable central government.

    “A socially polarising leader has polarised his own party. Can he run a smooth, stable and effective government at the centre? Think seriously,” he tweeted.