Friday, November 16, 2012

Gadkari, Advani, Swaraj, Jaitley to campaign in Gujarat; BJP central leaders to fan out in 95 constituencies

New Delhi: In the last assembly elections in Gujarat in 2007, Narendra Modi let it be known that he will fight the election on his own and he does not need any helping hand from the central leaders. This was the tacit mood and tacit understanding then though L.K.Advani, Sushma Swaraj and others addressed election meetings. In 2012, the mood seems to have changed. Party vice president Mukhtar Abbas Niaqvit told reporters on Thursday that central leaders including party president Nitin Gadkari, Advani, Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Murli Manohar Joshi, Venkaiah Nadu, Rajnath Singh and the two Muslim faces of the party – Naqvi and Shah Nawaz Husain, BJP chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chauhan (Madhya Pradesh), Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh), Manohar Parrikar (Goa), Arjun Munda (Jharkhand), Sushil Modi (deputy chief minister, Bihar) will fan out in 95 constituencies for the first phase on December 1 and 2. Party sources are not willing to speak out about the change in mood and style of Modi in 2102 compared to 2007. There is the defensive line that party leaders have always campaigned in state assembly elections, and that Modi will be carrying out his own campaign in all the constiuencies in the state. The decision to put forward the whole array of leaders in the party is not an innocent and bureaucratic decision. It may not be the case that the central leaders are elbowing their way into Modi territory. It could very well be the case that Modi wants to project a different image, of someone who is willing to share the battle honours with the rest of the party leadsership and not claim it as his own. Of course, Modi had always scrupulously acknowledged that electoral victory was that of the party and he did it in 2007 when it was he alone who rode to victory. The fact that the party has also decided to push Gadkari, who is caught in a controversy over his business deals, to the front reflects the position that the BJP is not defensive about the issue any more, or at least that it is putting a barve face on the whole thing. The presence of Gadkari in the Gujarat campaign also will silence the talk about the rift and rivalry between Modi and the party president.

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