Patna, Aug. 18: The state BJP executive committee’s resolution to urge the party’s parliamentary board to declare Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate virtually marks the end of L.K. Advani’s influence on the party’s affairs in Bihar.
The BJP’s Bihar unit yesterday unanimously adopted the resolution at its executive body meeting in Gaya — the first state unit in the country to do so. Former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi — the “key” figure in keeping the JD(U)-BJP alliance intact for 17 years — moved the resolution.
Sushil had been a prime link between the BJP high command and chief minister Nitish Kumar when the JD(U) was a part of the NDA. He grew in the party under the patronage of Govindacharya — the erstwhile party ideologue and the right hand man of Advani during the 1990s. But he was the one to move the resolution in favour of Modi, whose elevation as the party’s poll panel chief prompted Advani’s “resignation” move.
Advani made his reservations against Modi known through his utterances of late. But ignoring them, the state BJP — with Sushil in the forefront — approved Modi as their prime ministerial candidate.
The Gaya resolution hints a shift in loyalty of the state party leaders from Advani to Modi. Till the JD(U)-BJP break-up, Sushil and other emerging Bihar party leaders, including Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nand Kishore Yadav, Shahnawaz Hussain and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, were believed to “religiously” follow Advani’s directives. “Advani’s clout in the Bihar BJP in particular and the NDA in general was undisputed,” said a senior BJP strategist.
Ravi Shankar, the party’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, said: “It is not that Advaniji has lost our respect. He will continue to be our patriarch, torchbearer and guardian. But Narendra Modi has emerged as even more popular than Vajpayee. The countrymen are looking up to him.”
Advani, Nitish and George Fernandez conceptualised the alliance between the Samata Party [the earlier incarnation of the JD(U)] and the BJP in Bihar in 1996. Sushil in the state and Arun Jaitley at the national-level worked as effective foot soldiers to formalise the pact.
Sushil praised Nitish as the chief minister all through and tried till the last minute to save the alliance. “But once the alliance broke and Narendra Modi emerged as the BJP’s frontrunner to be its prime ministerial candidate, Sushil swiftly changed the gear, guiding the Bihar BJP to fall in line with the new mascot (NaMo),” said a state BJP leader.