BJP, RSS, VHP leaders meet, PM candidate not discussed

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

NEW DELHI: Leaders of BJP and Sangh outfits RSS and VHP held a key meeting today but the issue of taking a decision on declaring Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate did not come up for discussions amid indications a final announcement may be made by September 20.

The two-day meet convened to finalize a coordination strategy for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls started against the backdrop of RSS’ announcement yesterday that it has conveyed its opinion to BJP on the prime ministerial candidate.

Top BJP leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj – both of whom are said to be against Modi’s projection – Arun Jaitley, Murli Manohar Joshi besides party President Rajnath Singh participated in the meeting, which was also attended by Modi.

The Gujarat Chief Minister left for Ahmedabad in the evening as he is due to open the Vibrant Gujarat Global Agriculture Summit tomorrow.

BJP sources said an announcement on the party’s PM candidate could be made by September 20.

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has already held a meeting with Advani and Swaraj in a bid to reach a consensus on Modi’s name.

RSS was represented by General Secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi and Joint General Secretaries Suresh Soni and Dattatreya Hosbole while Praveen Togadia of VHP was also present.

The participants discussed the BJP’s electoral strategy and a need was felt to galvanize young voters in the party’s favor.

The conclave is discussing issues which are to be taken to the people from the block level upwards, sources said, adding it will also chalk out strategy for better coordination among Sangh organizations.

The Sangh outfits plan to carry out programs to reach out to all sections – minorities, SC, OBCs, tribals, women and the young – in tandem.

Among other issues, the VHP’s recent yatra in UP which was not allowed by the state government and the incidents of communal riots causing polarization of communities also came up for discussion.. “Faltering” economy and national security came up for discussion, and sources said that participants blamed “minority appeasement” policy of the UPA government for its “soft stand on terror”.

The ruling alliance suffered from policy paralysis, they said, adding that it did not take up the matter of Chinese incursions into India strongly and nor could it take a firm stand on the beheading of Indian soldiers by Pakistan army.

The issue of Defense Minister AK Antony’s flip-flop on the beheading of soldiers was also discussed as he was “compelled” by BJP to take a firm stand against Pakistan.

BJP also forced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make a statement on the country’s economy which is going through a slump amid a drastic fall in the rupee’s worth, they noted.

The meeting blamed corruption, highlighted by the exposure of a number of scams, for the policy paralysis, sources said.

BJP chief ministers, Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Manohar Parrikar, who were expected to participate in the conclave, are not likely to turn up, they said.

BJP, RSS and the Sangh affiliate organizations are upbeat about the party’s prospects in the next elections after two consecutive defeats in 2004 and 2009. -PTI

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