On Modi, BJP calms JD(U), tells Yashwant to keep it low

Narendra Modi invited for lecture at Delhi University on Feb 6 as part of plan to gradually project him as PM candidate

GN Bureau | January 30, 2013



Days into his new job as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) national president, Rajnath Singh has his hands full, trying to quell the discomfiture in NDA partner JD(U) following senior party leader Yashwant Sinha’s endorsement of Narendra Modi as BJP’s next prime ministerial candidate.

The BJP, meanwhile, also deferred a crucial meeting of its core committee on Tuesday night since three senior leaders — leaders of opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley as well as Ram Lal — were not unavailable.

Singh is learnt to have asked Sinha on Tuesday to tread with caution and desist from airing his views on the Gujarat chief minister being the prime ministerial candidate for 2014. After Sinha had endorsed Modi’s candidature, JD(U) leader Devesh Chandra Thakur had hit back saying, "I challenge Yashwant Sinha to withdraw support from the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar. He is exceeding his brief.”

With a key ally seething, the BJP president is learnt to have rung up Sinha and asked him to avoid airing pro-Modi views in public in light of JD(U)’s strong opposition to the Gujarat CM. “The BJP parliamentary board will decide the party’s prime ministerial candidate. If Mr Sinha had something in his mind, he should have expressed it to the parliamentary board,” Singh said.

While the BJP seems to have bought peace with JD(U) on the issue, the party has not given up on Modi being gradually projected for the top post in the run-up to next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

As part of this plan, Modi is being invited to deliver a lecture in Delhi University on February 6. He is slated to speak on governance and whether the Gujarat model of development and economic growth can be replicated across the country.

Arun Jaitley is said to be organising the event.

While Rajnath Singh is learnt to be sharing Jaitley and others’ views on giving Modi a bigger role, and has in fact gone public saying the Gujarat CM is the most popular BJP leader, he also said JD(U) has been a trusted ally for over a decade and that the BJP would work hard together with the party.

According to senior BJP leaders, had Sinha confined his statement to Modi being declared as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, it would not have brought out such a bitter reaction from the alliance partner. But his remark that the BJP would have “new allies” if the Janata Dal(U) wants to leave NDA created problems, the leaders said.

The JD(U) found it doubly objectionable since Sinha is also a member of the parliamentary board, senior leaders said.

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