Gujarat bypoll sweep adds to Modi’s clout

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) The BJP’s emphatic victory in six bypolls in Gujarat has added to the clamour in the party for a bigger national role for Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and indications are that he would head the 2014 polls campaign committee.

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said Thursday that at the party’s national executive meet in Goa over the weekend Modi is likely to be installed the chief of the campaign committee as there was pressure for this from the cadres.

“A decision is likely to be taken,” the leader told IANS, declining to be named.

Party leaders said that the BJP’s clean sweep in the Gujarat assembly bypolls Wednesday has added to Modi’s appeal among party workers.

“There is popular mood of cadres for Modi to lead the campaign for the 2014 elections. The party is seized of the matter. Party president (Rajnath Singh) may take a decision (at the national executive meeting),” BJP leader Sidhharth Nath Singh told IANS.

Rajnath Singh asserted that Modi was the most popular leader in the country.

BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, however, told CNN-IBN news channel Thursday that an announcement about Modi leading the 2014 poll campaign was unlikely to be made at its national executive as it is too large a body to discuss leadership issues.

There has been intense speculation over Modi’s role following party veteran L.K. Advani’s remark in Gwalior last week where he placed the Gujarat chief minister’s achievements a notch below those of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Party sources said that an announcement about Modi being the chief of the campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls would give him a larger role in the party’s campaign in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The four states are due to face assembly elections later this year.

The Janata Dal-United, an ally of the BJP, is opposed to projecting Modi as the prime ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Modi’s stock in the party has been rising since the BJP’s third successive triumph in the Gujarat assembly elections last year.

The party wrested four assembly seats and two parliamentary seats from the Congress, reflecting Modi’s hold over the state.

BJP sources said that party had won the bypolls despite Modi not actively campaigning for the candidates.

“He is not a helicopter-leader. His stature has grown despite the huge propaganda against him. He has risen because of hard work and his development agenda,” a BJP leader said.

The BJP Thursday tom-tomed the party’s performance in Gujarat in the bypolls.

Party vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the results were a “reality” and the Bharat Nirman advertising blitzkrieg was an imaginary bubble created by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

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