BJP allies welcome Modi’s elevation, Congress says not afraid

New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) After the BJP named Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Sunday as its campaign chief for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, a section of the party’s allies welcomed the move while others said it was not an NDA decision. The Congress pointed to the rift in the rival party and retorted that it “was not afraid of anyone”.

While Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest ally in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), termed Modi’s elevation “an internal affair of the party”, the Shiv Sena clearly said the Gujarat leader was not the NDA’s 2014 campaign chief. The Akali Dal, another NDA constituent, welcomed the decision on Modi.

JD-U spokesperson Neeraj Kumar told IANS: “This decision might have been taken on the basis of reports, feedback and experiences of the BJP in the assembly polls held in the recent past.”

Neeraj Kumar, who is considered close to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, said any party was free to go for an organisational re-structure in its own interest. Nitish Kumar is said to be averse to Modi’s ambition of becoming the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said: “We welcome the decision of the BJP. He is the BJP’s campaign committee chief, not that of the NDA.”

Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, while welcoming the move on Modi, said “this announcement would mark the beginning of decimation of corrupt, inefficient and insensitive UPA-II government from the centre”.

The Akali Dal and the BJP have an alliance government in Punjab since 2007. Both parties have been in alliance for nearly three decades in the state.

The Congress said it was not afraid of Modi.

“We are not afraid of anybody. We will be victorious in the 2014 elections,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla told reporters.

“This party cannot manage 10 leaders. How will they run the country?” he said.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh congratulated Modi and commented on the BJP’s internal rift.

“My heart goes out to Advaniji. He brought the BJP from two to 182 in the Lok Sabha. But then the ungrateful BJP is a party with differences,” tweeted Digvijay Singh.

Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani did not attend the party’s conclave in Goa, where Modi was given the new assignment, due to “ill-health”, fuelling speculations of a rift among top BJP leaders over the elevation of the Gujarat chief minister to the national scene.

Samajwadi Party leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav declined to comment on what he told reporters “was an internal matter of the BJP”.

BSP leader and party chief Mayawati’s confidante Naseemuddin Siddiqui told IANS: “Mayawati has already made the BSP’s position clear. We will never accept Narendra Modi as prime minister.”

A Muslim cleric from Delhi reacted sharply to the BJP’s decision to give a bigger role to Modi, also seen as the party’s Hindutva icon.

“The BJP cannot win elections in his name. It is the lack of leadership because of which people like Narendra Modi are elevated,” Mufti Mukarram, Imam of Fatehpuri mosque in Delhi, told IANS.

Modi, 62, was named the poll panel chairman by BJP national president Rajnath Singh Sunday at the end of the party’s three-day national conclave in Goa’s capital Panaji.

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