After months of internal bickering, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the main opposition political party in the country, has formally nominated Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate for next year’s general elections.
The Gujarat chief minister has been battling an anti-minority image linked to his tenure in his home state which witnessed bloody communal riots almost a decade ago. Modi is alleged to have acted in a manner which purposely failed short of providing protection to Muslims. The riots in 2002 led to death of thousands, many from the minority community.
However, Modi is also seen as a reformer and business friendly leader. He has won two state elections since the riots and cemented his position as one of the strongest politicians within the BJP.
Recently, Janata Dal (United), one of the partners of BJP, broke off from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition of political parties led by BJP, over disagreement of Modi’s PM candidature.
Modi also faced opposition within the BJP ranks with several senior politicians opposed to his nomination as the PM candidate for the next elections due in 2014. BJP and NDA as a whole has been out of power since 2004 when it lost out to Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Among those opposed to Modi as PM included former home minister and one of the top BJP politicians LK Advani. Ironically, Modi is said to be one time protégé of Advani. While some see Advani’s stance as his own ambitions to become PM, he has been insisting that Modi should be nominated as the PM candidate after assembly elections due in a few states in November this year.
According to him, naming Modi early as PM candidate would give the ruling coalition an issue to drum his links to Gujarat riots and take the wind away from NDA’s election agenda revolving around UPA’s corruption and misgovernance during its tenure.
Others who had opposed Modi’s candidature include top BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi.
BJP’s ally, Shiv Sena on Friday supported Narendra Modi as NDA's PM candidate. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said the BJP-led NDA would win the 2014 general elections if they contest it under the leadership of Modi.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)