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Call for him snubbed,Modi talks ‘backward Muslims’

Rajnath rebuked the Bihar leaders for trying to pressure the Central leadership.

The BJP’s balancing act over Narendra Modi was evident again as its central office-bearers and state unit chiefs met here Sunday,with party president Rajnath Singh pulling up the Bihar unit for passing a resolution that the Gujarat Chief Minister be declared the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

Narendra Modi as a ‘backward leader’,Nitish Kumar as an upper caste ‘hero’

As other state units listened,Rajnath rebuked the Bihar leaders for trying to pressure the Central leadership instead of focusing on poll preparations.

Prakash Javedakar puts Narendra Modi on BJP front-burner as PM candidate

Bihar,however,appeared to be weighing on Modi’s mind too. Addressing the one-day closed-door session Sunday,the chief campaigner of the party underlined the need to reach out to “marginalised and backward Muslims” to widen the BJP support base ahead of elections. His statement held significance for not just mentioning Muslims but specifically a section of them,known as ‘Pasmanda’ Muslims,who have been assiduously nurtured by Bihar CM and bete noire Nitish Kumar.

“The parliamentary board of the party will take a decision at an appropriate time. State units have no business passing resolutions (on issues) on which authority is vested with the parliamentary board,” Rajnath was quoted as saying regarding the Bihar BJP move. “It has not gone down well with anybody,even Narendra Modi,” a source said the party chief asserted.

Senior party leaders said not much should be read into Rajnath’s statement and that all he was trying to do was ensure that the resolution didn’t detract from the issues at hand at Sunday’s meeting.

Apart from Rajnath,L K Advani,Sushma Swaraj,Arun Jaitley and Modi all urged party leaders to intensify electoral preparations down to the booth level.

Talking about Modi’s address,BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters later: “He stressed the need to reach out to various social groups for electoral success. In this context,he stressed the need to reach out to marginalised and poor communities in various social groups. He underlined that several communities among minorities remain poor and marginalised and he stressed the need to champion their cause as well.”

Another BJP source said Modi cited that over 100 Muslim candidates fielded in local body elections in Gujarat by the BJP had won. “He highlighted that most of these 107 candidates were drawn from marginalised and backward communities among Muslims. He claimed that this approach had got the BJP more than 20 per cent support from among the Muslim community in the state. His message was to reach out to those communities among minorities who have not benefited from political avenues offered by rival parties like the Congress,” said a party leader.

Advani,who is seen to accept Modi’s growing stature with reluctance,was full of appreciation for Sunday’s session as well as the Gujarat CM’s electoral management suggestions Sunday. According to BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain,Advani said in his concluding address that the country was looking for a change. “The UPA government has been a failure on all fronts and the earlier BJP-led NDA regime and BJP governments in states have been a success. In this backdrop,we are headed for recordbreaking results,” Hussain quoted.

Modi’s other electoral suggestions included intensifying mobilisation for inclusion of youth in voting lists,including coordination with the Election Commission’s initiatives in this regard.

Speaking earlier in the day,leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj stressed the importance of booth-level reach. “One booth-10 youth approach should be implemented,” Hussain quoted Swaraj as saying.

Her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley provided an overview of the electoral landscape and exhorted party leaders to intensify their activities. “We are headed for far better electoral outcomes than recent surveys project,” Jaitley told party leaders. He reportedly also drew attention to the fact that there were 323 Lok Sabha constituencies where the BJP has been a force one time or another and urged party leaders to rejuvenate the party’s support base there.

“We have come out energised after this meeting. We have set a target of over 272 seats (in the next Lok Sabha elections),” Hussain asserted briefing reporters.

Naidu said they were not thinking of alliances. “If you grow in strength,then alliances will follow,” he told reporters.

A BJP release on the inaugural message of Rajnath indicated the same. It underlined “Mission 272 +” for Lok Sabha elections and win in 4 Assembly elections. “The mood of the nation reflects this mission as an achievable target,” the release said.

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