BJP hopes for Friday release for Narendra Modi-for-PM

9:47 AM, Friday, September 13th, 2013
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modiNew Delhi: The BJP wants to announce today that Narendra Modi will be its candidate for prime minister, according to sources, despite taut opposition from LK Advani, the party’s senior-most leader.

The party’s parliamentary board – its top 12 decision-makers – is expected to meet at 5 pm. A vote on Mr Modi could lay bare the fissures that he has pounded in his party. And that is something  BJP chief Rajnath Singh wants to avoid.

Mr Advani has reportedly said he will vote against the Gujarat Chief Minister;  Sushma Swaraj may join him, said sources. Murli Manohar Joshi, another dissenter, has reportedly agreed to accept the majority’s decision.

The BJP chief said today that Mr Modi’s political future will be decided “after talks”. But two meetings in the last 48 hours  with  Mr Advani have yielded no consensus. Continuing a strident but largely ineffectual campaign against the man who he once mentored, the 85-year-old has allegedly predicted a “political disaster” if the BJP outs Mr Modi as its presumptive prime minister.

The BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh or RSS, believes that Mr Modi’s surging popularity among party workers could extend to voters, and wants Mr Modi’s candidature to be announced urgently.

Mr Advani claims that a campaign pivoted around Mr Modi will force the BJP to focus its campaign on defending the chief minister, who is regularly excoriated by other parties for being a divisive leader on account of the riots in his state in 2002, in which hundreds of Muslims were killed.

Mr Advani’s first major act of rebellion against the ascension of Mr Modi played out in June, when he resigned from all party posts after the chief minister was picked campaign-in-charge. An intervention by the RSS persuaded Mr Advani to return to the fold.

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