The Indian Express had first reported in February 2013 that Modi will head BJP’s 2014 election campaign.
Singh made the announcement at the end of the two-day executive meeting.
“I have declared Narendra Modi Chairman of the BJP election campaign committee,” Rajnath said.
“Whatever was done was done on the basis of consensus. Every party sees election as a challenge and BJP takes the 2014 polls as a challenge with a pledge to be victorious,” he added.
Soon after he was made the poll panel chief,Narendra Modi announced before colleagues and workers that he would build the tallest statue of lauho purush Sardar Ballavbhai Patel in his state,somewhere along the Narmada river.
Modi said that the iron to build this statue would be collected from villages across the country. This could be an attempt to leverage Patels credibility as an alternative to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of the ruling Congress.
Modis decision to collect iron from the countrys villages is also an attempt to mobilise people from the artisan and backward classes. Incidentally,Modi himself comes fron an extremely backward community.
The announcement was made in a terse statement by Singh who was flanked by Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley,former President M Venkaiah Naidu,General Secretary Ananth Kumar among others. No questions were taken at the media interaction.
“Whatever has happened has happened on the basis of consensus,” Singh said without elaborating.
The decision to appoint 63-year-old Modi came against the backdrop of Advani,who is said to be strongly opposed to the elevation of Modi,keeping away from the meeting.
Several other leaders including Jaswant Singh,Yashwant Sinha,Uma Bharati and Shatrughan Sinha,who are also said to be reportedly having reservations on Modi’s elevation,also kept away from the Executive meeting.
After two days of deliberations and dilemma,the party appears to have taken the plunge by plumping for Modi in a crucial role,ignoring reservations from leaders like Advani,the tallest leader after Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Singh said all parties view elections as a challenge and BJP also viewed the coming Lok Sabha elections as a challenge and Modi’s elevation was done keeping in mind the need to achieve victory.
“We are absolutely sure that the Congress-led UPA government has lost the confidence of the people and are confident that the BJP will be voted to power in the 2014 elections,” he said.
Modi,considered a polarising figure in the country’s politics after the 2002 post-Godhra riots which his detractors alleged had happened with his sanction as chief minister,said in a tweet that Advani has given his ‘blessings’ to him after Singh’s announcement.
“Spoke to Advaniji on the phone. He gave me his blessings. Honoured and extremely grateful to receive his blessings.”
“Senior leaders have reposed faith in me. We will leave no stone unturned for Congress-mukht bharat nirman (building India free of Congress). Thanks for support and blessings,” he said in another tweet message.
Today’s decision of BJP could be seen as a gamble to perk up the party’s prospects after its defeat in two consecutive Lok Sabha elections.
Throughout the whole of yesterday,there was media speculation that the party could defer an announcement on Modi. One version was that Advani wanted that Modi should be made head of the campaign for the Assembly elections,including in states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,later this year.
Party sources said Singh resolved the dilemma after it was felt the meeting should not conclude without a ‘result’ as it would lead to demoralisation of the cadre. Hence,the announcement was made,they said.
The announcement of Modi’s elevation towards the end of Singh’s valedictory address at the National Executive session was received with cheers and standing ovation.
One of the delegates said there was clapping for five minutes as a signal of acceptance of the decision on Modi. (With PTI inputs)