Gadkari backs NaMo
BJP president Nitin Gadkari has endorsed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for the top posts of prime minister and party head, stirring a fresh debate among GenNext leaders positioning themselves for the 2014 sweepstakes. In an interview to a TV channel, Gadkari ruled himself out of the race for the PM’s post and said he would not seek an extension as party chief after his tenure ends in December. “I will never be a candidate for PM nor will I topple anybody. Modi has good potential to be BJP president and PM,” he said, adding, “I am ready to work as an ordinary party worker. I will support Narendra Modi to take over the mantle.” While he parried queries on the BJP’s choice for the PM’s post, saying the party would make the decision at an appropriate time, his firm endorsement of the Gujarat CM is likely to renew questions about the party’s future leadership. The Hindutva strongman is seen to be a polarising figure who many feel could be an impediment in BJP attracting allies with “secular” claims. The hostility of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to Modi is known and picking the Gujarat leader could hamper alliance making, thereby negatively impacting the party’s poll prospects. This is said to be the main handicap for the leader appreciated for “good governance”. The key issue will be the organizational leadership if Gadkari refuses a second term as BJP helmsman. The party will face the question much sooner than it has to decide about elections and the PM candidate. Modi is popular with the saffron cadre and is also seen by a section as the panacea for organizational weaknesses which have hobbled the BJP in comparison to Congress. Though the decision on who should head the BJP may be an internal issue, its tricky nature stems from the fact that BJP chief would automatically get projected as the party’s PM candidate.