New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has formally been named Bharatiya Janata Party's Prime Ministerial candidate in the capital on Friday evening. The entire top leadership of the BJP garlanded and congratulated Modi with the notable exception of party patriarch LK Advani who skipped the Parliamentary board meeting in protest.
In fact, Advani wrote a letter to Rajnath Singh, expressing pain at the way he is running the party. Modi went to meet Advani immediately directly after his coronation as celebrations broke out in BJP offices across the country at the news of Modi's elevation.
Modi, after being anointed, said he will leave no stone unturned to work for the BJP's victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The question that many are asking now is as to whether the Modi brand will help the BJP get the numbers in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Shiv Sena spokesperson Rahul Narvekar said more regional parties will join the NDA. "After 1999, we had a coalition of 24 parties. Let me assure you that a number of regional parties and a number of other people will be joining the NDA fold," he said.
BJP MP Piyush Goyal added, "The anointment of Modi is a day of celebration for India. we have matured as a democracy. Different points from political parties can be heard. We don't have to depend on families."
However, experts seem to be raising doubts. Former Editor-in-Chief of national daily 'The Hindu' N Ram said, "We have to be objective about this. Look at the numbers. If the BJP gets 140 to 150 seats, it's virtually impossible to form a government. If it reaches 200, it has a sporting chance. But then, who will support it? The Shiv Sena and Akali Dal are likely, AIADMK probably, TDP possibly. But JD(U) and BSP are unlikely. Not TMC, not LEFT. Not DMK, which is with the Congress, not YSR Congress, not NCP or RLD. So where are they going to get the numbers from? What are we talking about?"
This even as Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar had in an earlier interview said that with Modi as the Prime Ministerial face, the party will get over 190 seats and will also well be able to get the support of fence sitters and 'secular' parties.
The Left and the Congress, meanwhile, are slamming the BJP. "BJP's dream is a nightmare for the nation. Irrespective of who the campaign chief is, the BJP is ruled by the RSS and the RSS can never do anything right," CPI leader Brinda Karat said after Modi's anointment.
"Modi can dream of becoming the Prime Minister. One needs 272 seats and support of the public to become the Prime Minister," Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia said. "On one hand we have Narendra Modi saying that whoever dreams of becoming the PM gets ruined, but on the other hand he is doing everything one can to become PM. All this even after he states he is is not in the running for the post," Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said.
Meanwhile, Zakia Jafri who accused Narendra Modi for allegedly conspiring in the 2002 post-Godhra riots has slammed the announcement. "He is responsible for creating a divide between Hindus and Muslims. And now he will become the PM? We still remember the 2002 riots," she said.
BJP President Rajnath Singh brushing aside Advani's strong opposition went ahead and named Modi as the face of the party for the next Lok Sabha elections on Friday. The decision to name Modi was taken at the BJP Parliamentary Board meeting in New Delhi.
The meeting was attended by 10 of the 12 members of the Parliamentary Board. Apart from Rajnath Singh the other leaders who attended the meet were Murli Manohar Joshi, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Narendra Modi, Ananth Kumar, Thawarchand Gehlot and Ramlal.
Only former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is unwell, and a sulking Advani did not attend the meeting where this generational shift was decided.