Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch Atal Behari Vajpayee wasn’t sure he would go on to become India’s Prime Minister when he sipped tender coconut water on Miramar beach that cold December night, two decades ago.
He was Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha alright, vcialis 40mg what with the BJP riding the crest of the Ayodhya movement then. But a mere “let’s see” was his response to a pointed query of journalists who mingled freely with him and the other 200-odd delegates when the BJP National Executive met in Goa for the first time ever in 1994.
Circa 2013: The BJP National Executive meets in Goa again for a third time.This time, however, there’s no Vajpayee-like coyness among a significant section of the party’s top guns over projecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate in the run-up to next year’s General Election.
Goa’s health minister, Laxmikant Parsekar, sent tongues wagging when he made a cryptic comment that the deliberations in the BJP National Executive to be held this weekend in Goa could “send out signals” that Mr Modi will be the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The statement made at a news conference early this week by Parsekar, who’s a member of the BJP National Executive and president of the Goa state unit twice, gave rise to myriad news stories extending the ongoing speculation around the Gujarat leader’s nomination for the country’s top political post.
The BJP is the only party which follows the strategy of projecting a prime ministerial candidate in advance of the polls, although India’s electoral laws do not require it. Under the current electoral scheme, the Prime Minister is chosen by the directly elected MPs of the party or alliance that wins a majority in the 540-member Lok Sabha elections.
In the general elections held in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004, the saffron party had projected Atal Behari Vajpayee. He eventually did go on to become the Prime Minister at the end of the first three general elections as head of BJP-led coalitions (in 1996 however he lasted only 13 days and quit after he failed to drum up support of more fringe parties in a hung Parliament). In 2004, the party suffered a shocking defeat and lost its status as the largest party after Congress. The story repeated in 2009 when LK Advani was projected as the Prime Ministerial candidate and the party lost again.
Officially, the question of finalising the leader who will be projected as Prime Minister at the next election does not figure in the agenda of the Goa meet. Not in the national executive meeting on Friday-Saturday and not even in the workers convention slated for Sunday. That, according to senior BJP leaders, is the prerogative of the Parliamentary Board.
According to BJP national general secretary Smriti Irani, who was in Goa a few days ago, on the agenda of the Goa meet are issues related to the country’s national security which popped up following the recent Chinese incursions in Ladhak and the dastardly ambush by Maoists that claimed lives of top Congress leaders in Chattisgarh, in addition to corruption (with which the party hopes to pin down the Congress) and the general political scenario in the country.
Yet there’s enough hint that Mr Modi’s shadow would loom large over the deliberations from insignia, including posters where his is the only image of a BJP CM visible.
Also, party officials announced that the Gujarat CM will be the only one among half-a-dozen BJP CMs in the country who will address the National Executive. Not even Manohar Parrikar, who in an interview with Streets last December did not rule out taking up the job of Prime Minister if destiny propelled him to it, has this privilege, despite being the top political executive of the host state.
‘What’s in it for Goa?’
Goa’s special status demand may figure in deliberations
As top BJP national leaders converge on Goa this weekend, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is expected to prop up the issue of Goa’s demand for ‘special status’ during the political deliberations.
Although Parrikar has not spelt out his strategy over raising the demand during his party’s national meetings here, the Goa BJP chief, Vinay Tendulkar categorically said it would be done.
“Goa’s special status demand will be discussed with our party’s national office bearers. We will ask them to pursue it vigorously with the Central government,” Tendulkar, a former legislator, told Streets.
The Parrikar government sprung a surprise in the budget session of the Goa legislative assembly when it piloted a resolution pressing for special status under provisions of Article 371 of the Indian Constitution. Special status under this provision entails certain curbs on buying and selling of land in the state and also grants it benefits in devolution of central funds for development.