Narendra Modi’s third consecutive victory in Gujarat has once again triggered talk within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that he should now take a key role in national politics.

Though officially the party has not approved such a demand, there are indications that before the 2014 general elections, BJP will be forced to project Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate.

A section of BJP leaders claims that a majority in the Sangh Parivar, too, considers Modi as their leader, but fears of losing allies and compulsions against going back to its core Hindutva ideology are blocking the party from assigning a key role to Modi in national politics.

Though BJP leaders at the Centre said that all credit should go to Modi for the party’s performance in Gujarat, they shied away from the question of his becoming the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014.

Key campaigner in Gujarat and the Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, said the result was for this elections. “This may be an interesting topic from the media’s point of view, but we will take a decision at the appropriate time,” he told reporters here.

The Janata Dal (United), the second largest partner in the National Democratic Alliance, was also cautious in praising Modi.

Party MP in Rajya Sabha, Ali Anwar, said three terms in the Chief Minister’s chair will not make a person fit for the Prime Minister’s job.

“A leader must exhibit secular credentials in a secular country,” he said and added that JD(U) would take a decision on NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate once the BJP discusses the names with them.

Cong wait & watch

There are two views in the Congress on the issue of Modi’s possible ascent to the national stage. The party believes that Modi’s claim to the top post will naturally disrupt NDA and “secular”- minded parties will walk out of it.

The Congress also thinks that there will be a consolidation of secular forces if BJP starts projecting Modi ahead of the 2014 elections.

The other view is that Modi’s ascent may unite the divided BJP and the Sangh Parivar who would try to consolidate the Hindutva base. “This may create problems for us in States like Uttar Pradesh,” a senior leader said.

(This article was published on December 20, 2012)
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