New Delhi, Oct. 16: BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has influenced the party’s three prominent “apostates” differently — former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi has stressed his secular credentials, his Karnataka counterpart B.S. Yeddyurappa is waiting for an invitation from Gandhinagar, while former Union minister Arun Shourie has been gravitating towards Modi for some time now.
Former Jharkhand chief minister Marandi, who quit BJP in 2006 to float his own — Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) — has signalled loud and clear that he had no intention of coming “home”.
Marandi is set to be part of an anti-Modi convention slated to take place in the national capital on October 30 with the Left, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (United).
Although rooted in the RSS, Marandi “now swears by secularism and will not compromise on his beliefs”, a close aide said. BJP sources, on the other hand, claimed Marandi’s real peeve was with BJP party president Rajnath Singh, who apparently promoted Arjun Munda over him.
“As long as Rajnath is at the helm, Marandi won’t dream of returning to the BJP,” the source said.
Yeddyurappa, who led the BJP to a historic victory in the Karnataka Assembly polls in 2008 and became the first from the party to be the chief minister of a south Indian state, resigned from the party in 2012 under a cloud of allegations.
Seen as a vote multiplier in Karnataka, Yeddyurappa formed his Karnataka Janata Paksha.
Though the BJP seems to want a merger with Karnataka Janata Paksha, former Lok Sabha Speaker and NCP rebel Purno A. Sangma called on Yeddyurappa in Bangalore today, asking the latter to maintain a separate identity.
“Sangma said he and Yeddyurappa had in common their unqualified backing of Modi. But it was important to keep Yeddyurappa’s party afloat so that they could function like a pressure group. Yeddyurappa said he would think it over,” a source said.
Disinvestment, communication and information technology minister in the NDA government and an Atal Bihari Vajpayee favourite, Shourie distanced himself from the BJP after the party’s rout in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
His most acerbic remarks then were directed at Rajnath Singh, who was at the helm of the BJP before Nitin Gadkari took over. Shourie also stopped attending the national executive meetings.
But his self-enforced alienation hasn’t deterred him from pursuing an independent relationship with Modi.
When Modi was sworn in as Gujarat chief minister for the third term, Shourie was seen on the dais with the BJP’s top brass.
On October 18, Modi will be in Chennai to launch Shourie’s newest book, “Self-deception: India’s China policies”. The duo were seen together last month in New Delhi, when after addressing a BJP rally, the Gujarat strongman attended a classical dance performance hosted by a cultural foundation presided by one of Shourie’s relatives.
A BJP source put the equation in perspective: “Modi respects Shourie’s scholarship, his understanding of history and of contemporary events and his pragmatic approach towards the economy.”
As a disinvestment minister, Shourie oversaw the sale of Maruti, VSNL, Balco, Centaur Hotel and Hindustan Zinc. Though the Opposition raised questions over the alleged undervaluation of Balco and Centaur, sources believe that given the “paucity of talent” in the BJP, Shourie can be an asset in Modi’s “dream cabinet” in 2014.