World | India

Bharatiya Janata Party ready for snap election

Early poll possible as ruling Congress are unsure of their allies, says BJP’s Ananth Kumar

  • By Ajay Jha, Chief Correspondent
  • Published: 19:29 July 8, 2013
  • Gulf News

New Delhi: India’s principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday said it is ready for snap polls.

Party general secretary Ananth Kumar announced the party is now in election mode following a meeting of the BJP parliamentary board at its central office on Monday.

“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and [Congress party chief] Sonia Gandhi are uncertain of the support of their allies, and because of the pressure from its allies and their internal divide, the Congress [party] can go for early elections,” Kumar said.

The BJP parliamentary board — the apex decision-making body of the party — identified corruption, inflation and economic failures of the Congress party-led Manmohan Singh government would be the main issue in the polls.

The parliamentary board meeting was attended by the top 12 leaders of the party, including BJP president Rajnath Singh, veteran leader Lal Krishna Advani and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Advani and Modi were seated next to each other, indicating that issues existing between them stand resolved.

Advani had revolted and resigned from all party posts last month following Modi’s appointment as chairman of the BJP campaign committee. However, he withdrew his resignation following the intervention of Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the party’s ideological fountainhead Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Sources in the BJP confirmed that Bhagwat managed to diffuse the simmering crisis in the BJP after Advani called on him at RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Friday. Modi is the RSS choice to be projected as the party prime ministerial candidate during next year’s general elections.

“Bhagwat has worked out a formula under which while Modi would in consultation with other members of the election committee take decisions about campaigning and selection of candidates for upcoming state assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections, all decisions must be ratified by the parliamentary board of which Advani is a prominent member,” sources said.

Sources emphasised that Bhagwat promised a prominent role for Advani in the functioning of the party as its most senior leader.

RSS, while backing Modi, is wary of his style of working, as seen in Gujarat, where he takes all the decisions for the party and the state government. His tendency to centralise power is a matter of concern, although he is seen as the BJP’s best bet to come to power at the centre after a gap of 10 years.

To ensure all powers are not vested in Modi’s hands, RSS has also asked BJP chief Rajnath Singh to play a leading role along with Modi in naming various committees and seeking ideas from all central office bearers of the party before taking any decision.

The BJP parliamentary board felt that reluctance of the government to face parliament was an indication that it may go in for early polls. The monsoon session of parliament was to start from July 26. However, the government opted to get an ordinance to push through its Food Security Bill instead of calling for a parliament session. No decision so far has been taken on fresh dates for convening of the monsoon session.

“They have not made any announcement about the monsoon session of parliament yet and it is usually held in July,” Kumar said. “What does this mean? The government does not want to face parliament.”

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