Modi-for-PM stalemate: Should RSS get BJP to bite the bullet?

He may claim he has no dream of becoming the Prime Minister but the BJP seems evenly divided over whether it is time to project Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate, and a final call by the RSS next week may only split the party down the middle.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat was in Delhi yesterday to meet with senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and LK Advani to discuss the elevation of the BJP's poll committee chief to its prime ministerial candidate.

While CNN-IBN reported that the two BJP stalwarts have continued to oppose the elevation of the Gujarat Chief Minister to anything higher than his current post, other reports indicate Modi's supporters may not be willing to wait any longer.

Advani, who briefly resigned from all party posts after Modi was elevated to poll campaign chief, leads the camp that believes it may be too early to declare a prime ministerial candidate.

Modi has declared that he has no ambitions about being the Prime Minister. PTI

Modi has declared that he has no ambitions about being the Prime Minister. PTI

But if a Times of India report is to be believed party chief Rajnath Singh has decided that it is impossible to get everyone to agree on the issue and its better to just declare Modi the next Prime Ministerial candidate of the party.

The report quotes sources as saying that Rajnath has conveyed his readiness to the RSS chief and even told Murli Manohar Joshi about it. Rajnath is reportedly prepared to make the announcement as early as next week if given the go ahead, the report stated.

However, while he may have the rank and file against him, the BJP chief may not have the majority of the 'core group' behind him yet. While he and leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, back the Gujarat Chief Minister, Swaraj and Advani have been opposing him.

The Indian Express points out that in the 12-member Parliamentary Board of the BJP, barring Vajapayee, the situation is evenly balanced since leaders like Nitin Gadkari and Thawarchand Gehlot haven't made their stand clear yet and may not be in favour of Modi.

The report said:

Sources said that while four members - L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar - are against the announcement before the Assembly elections, another four - Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Ramlal and Narendra Modi himself - favour an early announcement.

The party chief cannot cast the first vote and since Modi is ineligible to vote to elevate himself, the parliamentary board of the BJP is at present a stalemate for the Gujarat Chief Minister.

The RSS meeting is said to be the final dipstick stick the organisation is said to be taking before a two-day-long meeting of the Sangh Parivar that ends on 9 September, where it is expected to throw its weight behind Modi, despite all its own leaders not entirely in favour of the decision.

While the expectation is that the RSS' decision will result in all of Modi's opponents within the party falling in line to back him, the party could also be split down the middle of its top leadership if senior leaders like Advani and Swaraj openly express their dissent. While there is limited scope to the extent of damage this can cause, it will divide a party just ahead of crucial state elections, which in turn could affect its performance in the next general elections.

The Gujarat Chief may himself have hinted that he was in no hurry for the announcement to be made by declaring that he had no dreams of becoming the Prime Minister. Perhaps the BJP and RSS should listen and as a Firstpost column pointed out, first concentrate on presenting a united strong front against its opponents rather than who its figurehead will be.

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