PANAJI: Putting an end to the anxiety that had built up within the BJP over the last two days following LK Advani’s absence from the Goa meet, party chief Rajnath Singh finally handed over the reins of the party’s election campaign for 2014 to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Sunday afternoon here.
Soon after the party’s national executive meeting got over at 2pm, Singh publicly declared that he was appointing Modi as chairman of BJP’s national campaign committee. “I have an important information to share. All political parties take elections as their biggest challenge and so do we. We will move ahead with the resolve of victory. Today, I have appointed Gujarat CM Narendra Modi as chairman of the national election committee. This decision has been on the basis of unanimity,” Singh declared while addressing reporters.
After making the declaration, Singh along with top leaders including Modi himself, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh, Manohar Parrikar stood in a row to finally make for the picture of solidarity and party unity that BJP desperately needed to convey after an exhaustive weekend of warring over whether or not to put the Gujarat CM at the helm of its election affairs for 2014.
Singh had announced his decision to the executive members while wrapping up his valedictory speech. The leaders dispersed in a hurry after the five minute show, as the executive venue burst out with celebrations by Modi supporters who were waiting for the moment.
Interestingly, Venkaiah Naidu clarified the role of the national campaign committee while speaking to the media soon after the announcement. He said, “This (committee) is supplementary to the party, which will gear up the party, mobilize workers, finalize the nitty-gritty of elections alongside the central election committee that decides on the contestants and the parliamentary board for larger decisions in the party.”
This seemed to be conveying the message that Modi will not be the only one to decide on everything about the elections for 2014 in BJP, in the context of the fact that his elevation to the central post is being viewed as the precursor to him being projected as the party’s prime ministerial candidate for 2014.
Within half an hour of is being named chairman of the campaign panel, a careful Modi got into damage control and tweeted saying he had the blessings of Advani for his new role. Modi tweeted: “Senior leaders have reposed faith in me. We will leave no stone unturned for Congress Mukt Bharat Nirman. Thanks for support and blessings … Spoke to Advaniji on the phone. He gave me his blessings. Honoured and extremely grateful for his blessings.”
The crucial decision was finalized after hectic parleys till late on Saturday night and only after Rajnath Singh spoke to Advani in Delhi over phone to ensure that the party veteran is on board when the announcement is made. Modi and Singh will be meeting Advani at his Prithviraj Road residence in Delhi, soon after they leave Goa.