Ending weeks of back-room manoeuvrings at the behest of the RSS, the BJP on Friday named Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha election, leaving veteran leader L.K. Advani, who refused to endorse the decision, as the last man standing.
The formal announcement came after the BJP Parliamentary Board, which Mr. Advani skipped, rubber stamped the nomination after the RSS made it loud and clear in recent days that it wants Mr. Modi’s name announced before the commencement of the ‘inauspicious’ fortnight on September 20.
It was preceded by hectic parleys between BJP president Rajnath Singh and two senior leaders opposed to the move — Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and former party president Murli Manohar Joshi — in a bid to get the duo to fall in line.
Minutes before the hour-long Parliamentary Board meeting, Mr. Advani shot off a two-paragraph letter to Mr. Singh expressing his ‘anguish’ over his style of functioning while informing him that after deep contemplation he had decided to stay away from the meet.
Immediately after the board meeting, Mr. Modi, accompanied by other members, barring Mr. Advani and an ailing former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, walked into the media conference room. Amid sound of conch shells, the BJP president made the announcement, followed by his brief media statement.
Mr. Modi thanked Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani for their valuable contribution to building the party and assured that he would do all he could to put the BJP in the seat of power in 2014.
Ms. Swaraj, who was seated next to Mr. Modi, garlanded a beaming Gujarat Chief Minister, with other members and office-bearers following her. Amid chorus of voices from the media seeking to know why Mr. Advani was not present, the BJP president ended the presser.