A day after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi held discussions with BJP President Rajnath Singh on the 2014 elections, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party MP and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha demanded that Modi be declared the party’s candidate for Prime Minister.

Though BJP MPs such as Ram Jethmalani had earlier wanted the party to project Modi for the top post, this is the first time that a senior BJP leader has openly backed the idea. It may be recalled that it was Sinha who started a campaign against Gadkari getting a second term, based on corruption allegations.

BJP insiders believe that Sinha’s statement on Monday has come with the intention of launching a debate within the party.

“A debate has been taking place for many days now. When I travel, there is a strong demand from common people and workers that Narendra Modi should be declared as the PM candidate. After careful thought, I have concluded that if BJP declares Modi as its PM candidate, then BJP will benefit hugely in the elections. I have no doubt about this,” Sinha told reporters here on Monday.

Modi and Gadkari shared a bad rapport and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh had to intervene several times to broker peace. It is learnt that Modi’s dissent also played a role in Gadkari’s ouster.

Sinha was also said to be preparing to contest against Gadkari if the RSS was adamant in giving him a second chance. Sinha, apparently, had the backing of senior leader L.K. Advani and Modi. Sinha also urged the party’s ally, Janata Dal (U) to shed differences and support Modi.

jigeesh.am@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 28, 2013)
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