The BJP's balancing act over Narendra Modi was again evident at the meeting of its central office-bearers and state unit chiefs here Sunday with party president Rajnath Singh pulling up the Bihar unit for passing a resolution that the Gujarat Chief Minister be declared the prime ministerial candidate.
As other state units listened, Rajnath rebuked the Bihar leaders for trying to pressure the Central leadership instead of focusing on poll preparations.
Bihar, however, appeared to be weighing on Modi’s mind too. Addressing the one-day closed-door session Sunday, the chief campaigner of the party underlined the need to reach out to “marginalised and backward” Muslims to widen the BJP support base ahead of elections. His statement held significance for not just mentioning Muslims but specifically a section of them, known as ‘Pasmanda’ Muslims, who have been assiduously nurtured by Bihar CM and bete noire Nitish Kumar.
“The parliamentary board of the party will take a decision at an appropriate time. State units have no business passing resolutions (on issues) on which authority is vested with the parliamentary board,” Rajnath was quoted as saying regarding the Bihar BJP move. “It has not gone down well with anybody, even Narendra Modi,” a source said the party chief asserted.
Senior party leaders said not much should be read into Rajnath’s statement and that all he was trying to do was ensure that the resolution didn’t distract from the issues at hand at Sunday’s meeting.
Apart from Rajnath, L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Modi all urged party leaders to intensify electoral preparations down to the booth level.
Talking about Modi’s address, BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters later: “He stressed the need to reach out to various social groups for electoral success. In this context, he stressed the need to reach out to marginalised and poor communities in various social groups. He underlined that several communities among minorities remain poor and marginalised and he stressed the need to champion their cause as well.”
Another BJP source said Modi cited that over 100 Muslim candidates fielded in local body elections in Gujarat by the BJP had won. “He