What Narendra Modi wants, Narendra Modi gets. The ‘Gujarat ka sher’ — monikered ‘Hindustan ka sher’ by many party workers yesterday — was roaring regally at BJP’s national executive meeting here. Several leaders are also believed to have unofficially accepted him as the PM candidate for the party. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that Modi hijacked the entire event even after arriving nearly six hours late at the YB Chavan Centre near Nariman Point.
The day began on a triumphant note for the Gujarat CM, as the resignation of his bête noire Sanjay Joshi — the RSS strongman and at one time Nitin Gadkari’s close aide — from the national executive was accepted by the party. The first thing that BJP president Gadkari announced immediately afterwards was Modi’s time of arrival for the national convention. One thing that should be noted here is that Gadkari was the one who had appointed Joshi as election in-charge of Uttar Pradesh.
‘For us, he’s the PM’
Meanwhile, party workers at YB Chavan Centre couldn’t hide their happiness. Modi arrived at the convention hall around 4.30 pm. Immediately prior to this, there was a tussle amongst supporters on whether to stick to their old slogan ‘Gujarat ka sher’ or the new one, ‘Hindustan ka sher’. The moment Modi stepped out of the car, cries of ‘aaya, aaya, Hindustan ka sher aaya’ reverberated. Many senior leaders were also seen lending voice to the watchword. A leader from the party’s women’s wing even said, “For us he’s already the prime minister.”
Before Modi could enter the hall, most top leaders had already made a beeline to greet the three-time chief minister, who didn’t let go of even a single moment to prove to the whole world that he’s the tallest leader in the party today. People like Jaywantiben Mehta, Gopinath Munde, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and almost every MLA from Mumbai, were present at the gates to welcome Modi.
“The way people from the party are going crazy just to be close to him and be seen with him while entering the hall is a clear indication of what Modi’s power today in the party is. This particular move of his (getting Joshi to resign) has showed that he’s the only PM candidate in the party,” said a senior BJP functionary. While for the common cadre, Joshi’s sudden exit would have come as a shock and many didn’t even hide their anger, venting it on social networking sites too. A senior RSS leader said, “The definition of such ego and arrogance is seen different in the context of politics. This condescension and posture is seen as a sign of the strength and power the person wields. Modi has only shown who or what he is for the party.”
It is also said that Gadkari had no option but to bow down to Modi’s demands. Gadkari who is facing opposition from many party stalwarts while seeking another term at the helm needed a strong man by his side. “While Joshi and Gadkari had long shared a close relationship, at such a juncture one has to make sacrifices. That’s what Gadkari did,” said a leader. The latest report from sources in the party was that former BJP president Rajnath Singh moved a proposal at the convention that every president — from the top of the party to the ward level — should be given two terms henceforth. “The proposal has been passed and the official stamp on Gadkari’s name would be put at the national convention at Gujarat.” It seems Gadkari got instant benefits of the sacrifice made by him. While the party president had something to rejoice by evening, the events in the morning, especially the fiasco at the convention after Joshi’s resignation, had left him morose. Gadkari appeared forlorn the whole day.
Advani avoids Modi
At one point in time, Modi was seen as the blue-eyed boy of senior party leader LK Advani. However, yesterday, according to party sources, the two avoided each other. “After Modi’s arrival Advani preferred to stay in the greenroom and then left for his residence. There was no contact or communication between them,” said a source.