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Narendra Modi unlikely to find the going easy
Wednesday June 12, 2013 7:02 PM, IANS

With the BJP having weathered a crisis soon after his elevation as the chief of party's campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is unlikely to find the going easy in his new role that will require straddling intra-party tussles and strengthening bridges with allies.

Modi had begun his new innings on a high note, declaring after the BJP's national executive meeting in Goa Sunday that "a job well begun, is half won". But the words sounded hollow as Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch L.K. Advani resigned from his three organisational posts Monday, taking the focus away from Modi's newfound stardom.

The crisis blew over only with the intervention of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP, but reinforced views about fissures in the party.

Analysts said it will not be easy for Modi to take the BJP-led NDA to power in the 2014 polls as he faces a multitude of challenges.

Nisar Ul Haq, a professor of political science at Jamia Milia Islamia, said Modi will not find the going easy as there was "no unanimity" about him in the BJP.

"You are seeing clearly one set of people are aligned with Advani and would not like Modi to be the prime ministerial candidate. The BJP clearly is a divided house," Haq told IANS.

Haq said it was possible that BJP improved its tally from 116 to 140-150 seats in 2014 but that will mainly be due to the dissatisfection of the people with the ruling United Progressive Alliance and not due to Modi being helming the BJP's campaign.

He said Modi's influence was "limited" to Gujarat.

Haq also added that Modi's elevation will cause polarization of Muslims against the BJP, due to which the Congress and regional parties will gain.

"There is no unanimity in the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) on his name. Look at the stance of JD-U," Haq said.

Janata Dal-United is opposed to projecting Modi as the NDA's prime ministerial candidate.

A.S. Narang, a professor of political science at the Indira Gandhi National Open University, felt Modi can succeed if there is no factionalism in the BJP.

He said Modi would have limited appeal for people in rural areas as they were not drawn by his vaunted growth rhetoric.

"People in rural areas would be largely influenced by caste and local issues in the next Lok Sabha election," he said.

"In the urban electorate, there is a intellectual class opposed to Modi," Narang pointed out.

Referring to criticism about the personality cult associated with Modi, Narang said the Gujarat chief minister could be more consultative in his new role.

"It will be clear in a few months how he operates," Narang said.

Modi will face challenges improving BJP's stock in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka due to the party's problems in the two states. The BJP does not count for much in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and is a minor player in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.

It has also suffered setbacks in the past elections in Odisha and Assam.

G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, a member of BJP's electoral reforms committee, admitted that Modi will face challenge in states the party is weak but added that the Gujarat chief minister "loves challenges."

He said Modi will be able to maximize BJP's gains.

"The image he carries, he will be able to deliver astounding results for the BJP," Narsimhan said.

He said the party could win over 200 seats with Modi as the face of party's campaign.

"I don't see any internal challenges (to Modi)," he said.

BJP MP from Meerut Rajendra Agarwal said Modi's record "as a good administrator" will be an asset during the Lok Sabha campaign.

"The next election will be fought on the issues of corruption and good governance. Modi has a very good record on this," he said.

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