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Modi juggernaut?

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What is all the ballyhoo about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having picked on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its face for Prime...

What is all the ballyhoo about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having picked on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its face for Prime Ministership after the 2014 general elections? For one thing, he is only the nominee of one party; for another, his nomination has been marred by dissentient voices within the party although no leader of the party would dare challenge the selection.

It is no secret that the BJP, right from its inception, has been a wire-pulled jack-in-the-box of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). That in itself is unexceptionable because the Congress too has its High Command which decides from who should be its Prime Minister to who should be a minister in one of the States ruled by it. For yet another, Modi’s nomination had been on the cards for much longer than his earlier anointment as the chairman of the election committee of the party at the Goa conclave. Reservations on the wisdom of his choice may persist in the BJP but they are sure to be stifled by the imprimatur of the RSS. Consequently, party stalwart Advani, who was primarily responsible for the party attaining a national stature, is isolated. However, he has decided to fall in line.

And with the likes of former Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa jumping on the Modi bandwagon after having floated his own outfit in protest against the contempt with which the BJP leadership had sacked him over charges of corruption and the way the ground from under the feet of the BJP was cut in the recent elections to the State Assembly, the nation will wish Modi the best of luck! It may be too late to rake up the controversy over the communal carnage in Gujarat in 2002, but Modi still has a great deal to explain. For instance, the “chargesheet” against Modi framed by DIG Vanzara who was once believed to have been close to the Gujarat Chief Minister, is sure to be referred to by voters, demanding an explanation. Indeed, according to one newspaper report, Advani referred to it when Modi went to his house to “seek his blessings” as though fiats accompli also need endorsement!

Another question that many BJP members are already asking privately is that if the party comes a cropper in the Assemblies of five States due to go to polls this year, where that would leave Modi’s claim to be the party’s face for Prime Ministership? Finally, the JD (U) in Bihar has snapped ties with the BJP, thanks to projection of Modi. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Orissa threw the BJP out of the ruling coalition long before Modi appeared on the scene.
The Trinamool Congress in West Bengal would sooner touch carrion than the BJP. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is a cat on the wall. During his recent visit to Hyderabad, Modi did try to woo the TDP by invoking the name and anti-Congressism of NTR, but it is too early to say if Chandrababu Naidu would bite the bait. That means the BJP under Modi will be left with only two allies, the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab. The former has been cut to size by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena floated to spite the Shiv Sena; and the SAD is as much under the grip of Sikh clergy as the BJP is under that of the RSS. Modi was, therefore, being realistic the other day in telling schoolchildren in his State that he had a “mandate” to rule over Gujarat till 2017!
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