After the new 2014 BJP team has been announced by party president Mr. Rajnath Singh, contrary to what most media experts have opined, the prospect of Mr. Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister has not increased but in fact sharply declined. It appears this has happened not by default but by design. And the author of the stratagem to spike Mr. Modi’s chances is the RSS Chief. Mr. Modi had become too big for his boots and had earlier challenged the RSS. His belated overtures to Nagpur evidently bought him peace but not trust. RSS Chief Mr. Mohan Bhagwat it seems does not forgive or forget very easily. In the days to come Mr. Modi may learn this to his cost. It would be instructive to see how precisely Mr. Bhagwat has cut Mr. Modi to size.
Mr. Modi’s rapid rise as a prime ministerial candidate coincided with his conversion from being a Brand Hindutva icon to a Brand Development icon. With a sharp eye at electoral prospects Mr. Modi assiduously and systematically made his image switch. It earned him plaudits at home and from distant abroad. His elevation to the BJP parliamentary board has been hailed by analysts as his stepping stone to the PM’s post. These analysts have missed the wood for the trees. Mr. Rajnath Singh’s new team of office bearers has made Mr. Modi the captive of precisely the past shackles he was trying to escape.
What image will Mr. Modi project at the end of the next poll when the entire BJP campaign will be conducted by a perceived pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim team? One of the new general secretaries, Mr. Amit Shah, was jailed for alleged involvement in a widely publicized false police encounter case in which a Muslim had been killed. Another, Mr. Varun Gandhi, has thus far been cleared of court cases alleging hate speeches but that has not altered popular perception about his almost rabid pro-Hindu orientation. Other team members like Miss Uma Bharati are known for their commitment to the Hindutva ideology. Unless the BJP therefore gets a single party majority it is most unlikely that coalition partners would accept Mr. Modi as leader even if the BJP is the largest coalition member. Few would consider at this juncture that BJP is likely to get single party majority. In that event Mr. LK Advani’s chances would be much greater. Mr. Advani’s blessing of the new team may not therefore be as reluctant in private as might be publicly perceived.
Did all such calculations escape the notice of the RSS leader or was the team selected precisely on the basis of these calculations? Circumstantial evidence suggests that Mr. Mohan Bhagwat knew exceedingly well what the impact of the new team will most likely be. This becomes evident from the fact that within Gujarat itself where Mr. Modi is desperately trying to woo the minorities his arch opponent Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Mr. Pravin Togadia is staging a ‘Hindu Sangam’ rally in Mr. Modi’s personal constituency to counter the Chief Minister’s Sadbhavna movement intended to woo the minorities. Not only the VHP president Mr. Raghav Reddy but also Mr. Mohan Bhagwat are expected to grace the occasion along with Mr. Togadia. In these circumstances if Mr. Narendra Modi aspires to become the Prime Minister after 2014 he will have to aim for a single party majority based on the Hindutva plank which precludes the need for any support to him by non-BJP elements.
Is he ready for this challenge?