While most political analysts acknowledge that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is a front runner to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, his own party has been non-committal about it given the opposition already being voiced by allies like Nitish Kumar over his alleged involvement in the 2002 communal riots in the state.
So what does he need to do ensure he doesn’t lose out?
According to senior columnist Aakar Patel, two simple things.
“Modi has to learn to share power. And secondly, he has to explain his role as the Home Minister of the state during the riots and after that,” Patel said.
According to the columnist, Modi holds several important portfolios like – mining, energy, petrochemicals and industries, besides being the CM.
“He talks of Sonia and Manmohan as running the Delhi Sultanate, but actually he is the real Sultan, ” he said.
The Chief Minister holding on to multiple portfolios reveal that he has an aversion to decentralise power or could also mean that there are no leaders fit for these duties in Gujarat, Patel said.
As Home Minister, Modi needs to explain the role of former minister Maya Kodnani during the 2002 communal riots. He would also perhaps need to explain why aide Amit Shah and the Head of the Anti-Terrorism Squad in Gujarat were found complicit in fake encounters.
“He owes it (an explanation) to the rest of India, ” Patel said.
But can Modi come clean on the 2002 riots and become a more acceptable candidate across communities?
According to Aakar Patel, the Gujarat Chief Minister cannot change his position.
“He operates within a party where the more right you are, the more you are seen closer to RSS, the more appeal you have for the cadre,” he said.
“He cannot let go of control over Gujarat. And he cannot be secular in Gujarat. Secular is a bad word in Gujarat,” Patel said.