The BJP and its top leadership have very little to do with Narendra Modi’s massive campaign push. Sources in the BJP and Modi’s core team say the party brass is mostly in the dark about his rallies, their venues and the content of his speeches.
It is the RSS leadership instead that Modi confers with on political strategy. His day-to-day campaign is planned by a core group comprising sahsarkaryavahs Suresh Joshi and Suresh Soni, and RSS exports to the BJP, the party’s state general secretaries Ramlal, V Satish and Saudan Singh.
The only BJP organisation man involved is national general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan.
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Also in the core group are three ministers from Gujarat — Nitinbhai Patel, Saurabh Patel and Anandiben Patel, all close Modi aides, the sources said. While the core group operates in the background to provide political inputs for the campaign, Amit Shah is Modi’s man on the ground.
“His (Modi’s) political strategy is devised at his own end. Instead of top-rung party leaders with high public recall, he largely banks upon people from the organisation, and his own team for advice on his campaign. They decide on which state, which venue to organise a rally in. Even the issues he speaks on are decided by members of his own team,” said a well-placed source in the BJP.
“The party leadership is mostly in the dark about his moves, even though they are definitely informed about the events,” he said.
At the nearly 60 rallies that Modi has addressed across India so far, the BJP’s best known faces have generally been missing. “It is a departure from the past when top party leaders made a show of strength from the dais in rallies, especially those presided over by the prime ministerial candidate,” said another BJP source.
The sources, however, insisted that this did not indicate a rift between Modi and his party. “There is an unspoken understanding that Modi has to be given space to draw out and implement his political strategy. After all, he won elections in Gujarat thrice on his own strength,” said a source.
The man who implements Modi’s strategy on the ground is Amit Shah. He has the responsibility of reaching out to local leaders, seeking out alliances, arranging meetings, weeding out undesirable elements and representing and conveying Modi’s messages to those the prime ministerial candidate himself cannot meet.