A Modi supporter in Gujarat says: “Narendrabhai hasn’t done anything in the past to hurt the interests of Advani and that it was sheer public support from the grassroots which is behind the cry for making Modi the PM candidate. In fact if you look at Narendrabhai’s chart in the past 10 years, you will find he has done everything in his command to repay the debt to his mentor. When people talk about Advani standing behind Narendrabhai like a rock in his bad times in the past, they also can’t forget what all Narendrabhai has done for the veteran BJP leader in return.”
The meeting between Swami Ramdev and Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar on September 11 was significant as the yoga guru has declared that he will support the BJP on two conditions: One, that only Modi will be the BJP’s PM candidate and, two, that only good candidates will be given party tickets. What transpired in the meet on Advani is not known but the veteran leader’s posturing shows that the yoga guru failed to convince the former Deputy Prime Minister to agree to Modi’s candidature, something Ramdev has been trying for quite some time. Among topics discussed by Modi and Ramdev, the two spoke on how to use the strong network of Ramdev for Modi’s rallies in the future, particularly in places where the BJP has sparse support.
Significantly, the first indication of the rift between Advani and Modi came in 2011 when Modi advised him to start his last rathyatra against Congress’s corruption from the birth place of Jayaprakash Narayan in Bihar as Narayan was the symbol of the fight against corruption, instead of starting it from Somnath as planned by Advani. The veteran leader took it as a sign that “his former disciple (was) trying to avoid him and getting too big for his boots” while Modi kept on insisting before Advani through intermediaries that his advice was natural and befitting and nothing ugly should have been seen behind it.
Sources close to Modi say he is allowing his growing country-wide public support to do the job for him instead of lobbying with the intransigent BJP leaders. He thinks this is the best strategy since he will have to make huge compromises if he has to placate senior leaders with some give and take which could sully his robust image. This could also come in the way of his quick and tough decision-making working style. However, a Modi aide hastens to add: “However, on the other hand, he has done enough to allay the fears of some of them who believe that his arrival in Delhi will be the beginning of the end of their careers.”