New Delhi, Sept. 8: The BJP is scouring the almanac to find a propitious date and time to declare Narendra Modi its candidate for Prime Minister in next year’s general election.
A window of September 12 to 18 is being looked at. Party sources said a proposal from the workers to anoint Modi on his birthday, September 17, had been shot down to pre-empt charges of “histrionics”.
Modi turns 63 that day and the cadre felt the declaration would be a “birthday gift”. But the leaders felt such a “gimmick” could detract from the “gravity” of what a party lobby believes is the biggest gamble the BJP has taken since the Ayodhya agitation.
The unpropitious phase of Pitrapaksha sets in on September 19, marking a period of stagnation when all major decisions are suspended.
The BJP began a two-day meeting with the Sangh and its affiliates here today. Sources ruled out an immediate announcement on Modi because the Sangh believes such a move would reinforce the perception that it was dictating terms to the BJP.
A meeting of the BJP parliamentary board, the party’s highest policy-making body, will be called before the announcement, to be made by party president Rajnath Singh.
Since last night, Rajnath and Modi have called on Sangh seniors, including chief Mohanrao Bhagwat, separately.
For the first time in its 88-year-old history, the Sangh, which prefers to be called a “socio-cultural” organisation, has intervened publicly to micro-manage the affairs of its political sibling, which was born under the name Jan Sangh.
Sources said the “larger than life” presence of L.K. Advani, who is several years older than Bhagwat and his colleagues, and his staunch opposition to Modi’s elevation had “compelled” the Sangh to intercede.
Even now, Advani and his confidante Sushma Swaraj feel that the decision is “being thrust” on them amid a “farcical” show of an attempt at a “consensus”, sources claimed.
In 1995, when Advani had unwrapped the decision to project Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the putative Prime Minister, there was hardly any resistance although the cadre thought Vajpayee a bit of a “pretender” and believed Advani deserved the job.
But Vajpayee’s congeniality endeared him to most leaders and party officials. Modi’s acceptability within the party remains in doubt.