The BJP finally decided to appoint Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as party’s prime ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha elections. After scripting three successive win in Gujarat Assembly polls last year, Modi emerged strong contender in the party for PM post. This is the reason, Modi was made BJP’s poll campaign chief in party’s working committee meeting in Goa. After elevated to poll campaign chief, the party workers and supporters started chanting NamoNamo. Clearly, oppositions from senior leaders like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj created hurdle in Modi coronation. Irked over the delay in announcement, Modi went on saying that his priority is to serve the people of Gujarat till 2017. He wants to become nobody but dreams of doing something positive, he had added. In fact, Modi had expressed his unhappiness over the delay in the announcement. It’s natural to be angry as on the one hand the party workers were describing him as the strong contender for PM post and on the other senior party leaders were pouring cold water on his elevation. It was happening at a time when Modi was projecting himself as a leader of unstoppable growth saga and busy in encouraging the party workers.

Truly, had the BJP leadership taken more time to approve the Modi’s PM candidature, the party would have been suffered electoral rout. LK Advani has been held responsible for delay in the announcement of Modi as PM candidate. The manner Advani opposed Modi’s candidature reflects that BJP patriarch himself is eager for grabbing top post. Whatever the reason may be, his claims bear no significance that the party may cost due to announcement of PM candidate before the assembly elections in the five states. It seems that the octogenarian leader was not aware of the fact that his support base among the party workers and common people are getting erased. The BJP workers know very well that the party under leadership of Advani faced humiliating defeat in 2009 general elections. It remains to be seen if Modi sails through the party in 2014 but it’s certain that BJP has edge over Congress in the run up to the general elections due to corruption, inflation and poor economic condition now prevailing in the country. The discussion on his three successive win in Gujarat Assembly elections and the development model have gone beyond the boundary.

No doubt Gujarat has developed and Modi achieved new height of popularity despite all the controversies. Shivraj Singh Chouhan seems to make hat trick in Madhya Pradesh but he remains confined to his state. Despite the fact, many party leaders had projected Chouhan for PM post in comparison to Modi. Ultimately, they failed in their mission. Now it would be worth mentioning that what the approaches Modi opts? Presently, he is busy in criticizing Gandhi family and praising his development model. Putting the Centre in dock, Modi is vocal in ‘making India Congress free’.

It’s clear that Modi got benefitted hugely by plucking the loopholes in the government machinery and successfully implementing the Centre’s schemes in the state. Astonishingly, the Central government starts schemes worth billions of rupees but the common people could not be benefitted due to corruption, mismanagement and redtapism. The development work done by Modi is the reason behind his rising popularity. None of the BJP wannabes has measured up to his stature as PM candidate. Several BJP leaders might have unhappy over Modi’s style of functioning but at the same time, it’s equally true that Modi enjoys massive support base. With Advani getting isolated in the party, Modi’s mission became easy. But it won’t be easy for BJP to return to power at the Centre with support of only two allies next year. In the present situation, the public mood seems to be against the UPA but the BJP must have to shed its Hindutva image. If it gets clicked in the elections, it will be temporary something similar to that of 1996 Lok Sabha verdict. Presently, the Congress is reeling under corruption, inflation coupled with poor economy. It can’t be said whether the stagnant economy will remain a poll plank during the next general elections. It may possible that the economy can revive till then. The Centre’s popular schemes may bolster Congress’ poll perspective. It may quell the anger among the common people. If it happens, the challenges before BJP will mount. At that juncture charismatic leader Modi can be a panacea if he gets proper support from senior leaders.
To get success in Lok Sabha elections, BJP must have to regain the lost ground in Uttar Pradesh where the party won 57 seats in 1998. Modi has appointed his close aide Amit Shah as party in-charge of Uttar Pradesh but the latter has so far failed to suppress inner bickering in the party. It seems that Shah will take more time to understand party’s ground reality in the country’s largest state. In such odd situation, Modi will face challenge in making the party number one in the state. Several states including Uttar Pradesh are heading towards social polarization, while people of the state need overall development. Modi became popular in Gujarat by speeding wheels of development but it remains to be seen if he can script the fortune of party in UP on basis of his performance as Chief Minister.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on September 15, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)