With Narendra Modi heading the BJP’s Lok Sabha campaign panel, the stage is set for a virtual showdown between the Gujarat chief minister and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi next year. While Modi was named the BJP’s central poll campaign committee head on Sunday, Gandhi was picked in November last year to head the Congress election coordination committee.
This happened two months before Gandhi was made the vice president, second only to his mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi. Though neither Rahul Gandhi nor Modi have yet been named the prime ministerial nominee of their parties, it is clear that both will lead the charge ahead of the next general election.
Modi and Gandhi are contrasting personalities. While Modi, 62, has an advantage of winning three assembly polls and administrative experience since 2001, Gandhi, 42, has not held any position in the government since he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004. Also, while Modi had a humble start as a RSS pracharak and gradually moved up the ranks in the BJP, Gandhi is viewed as one holding the present post largely due to his surname.
But experts are not sure if Modi and Gandhi will be the prime ministerial candidates. “It is still not known if the BJP will project Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. There is already a power struggle on in the BJP,” said Nisar ul Haq, who teaches political science at Jamia Millia Islamia.
Pradeep Dutta, who teaches political science at Delhi University, said the picture would be clearer after six months. “It depends on whether the Congress will project Rahul as future prime minister or not. Opposition to Modi from allies and low caste regional political players could well undermine his popularity,” Dutta said. Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said, “If Modi is projected as PM it will help us.”
Congress, NCP gleeful over Advani
Congress said it had warned that the elevation of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi within the BJP would have its repercussions. “We had already said that it (Modi’s elevation) will have its repercussions,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.
Congress spokesperson Renuka Choudhary said with unconcealed glee, “I am not surprised. The BJP is politically bankrupt.
Taking a dig at factionalism in the BJP, NCP leader Mahesh Tapase said, “The party with a difference is indeed a party with differences as is evident from Advani’s resignation. The fate of the NDA is sealed as the BJP suffers from NaMonia. The UPA will bounce back to power in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.”