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Advani & Co play for time as they dig in against RSS charge for Modi coronation

GUJARAT Chief Minister Narendra Modi's inhouse opponents are looking at snatching temporary victory from the jaws of defeat at the two- day Samanvay Baithak that concludes on Monday.

The vital coordination meeting between the Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ( RSS) had been hyped as the venue for Modi's long- awaited coronation as his party's prime ministerial candidate.

It didn't happen on Sunday, and is highly unlikely on Monday, with the Advani camp standing its ground on not taking such a major decision before this year- end's Assembly polls are done and dusted.

The dullness of Sunday's developments was the outstanding indicator that those opposed to Modi -- primarily the quartet of L. K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar and Murli Manohar Joshi -- will maintain the deadlock in the Sangh Parivar over announcing the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for at least another month.

The camp opposing Modi continues to hold out despite the RSS throwing its weight firmly behind him. For them, September 20 is a key day, when the ominous 16- day ' Pitrapaksh' period begins, and can be expected to go all- out for Modi's coronation before that date. ' Pitrapaksh' is a 16- day period in September- October that Hindus consider inauspicious.

Longer wait

As the RSS- BJP coordination meeting got underway on Sunday with 65- odd attendees, the first day remained confined to a structured dialogue on the 2014 general elections and matters of internal security. Modi was present along with the BJP top brass at Madhyanchal Bhawan in south Delhi; expectations were high of a breakthrough on the ' party's popular leader'. Nothing of the sort happened, and the buzz was that Monday would be a replay. " Nothing will come out tomorrow either... There was no discussion on Modi.

His wait will get only longer, at least till the ' Pitrapaksh' period ends," one senior BJP leader said.

" The decision on Modi has to wait for a while as a united BJP cannot go public with the divisions on their prime ministerial candidate... don't read too much into this meeting as RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will only be available on Monday, the day when Modi would be missing. And if there is any possibility of discussion on Modi's candidature, it will be only if Bhagwat and the select ' Big Group' decides to meet, which is highly unlikely," another leader said on condition of anonymity.

Off- limits

It is also learnt that Advani and Swaraj have impressed on the RSS to keep off the Modi issue till after the upcoming Assembly polls in November. " The BJP is strong in at least three of the four states going to polls and the Advani camp is pretty sure that Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan will come back with a thumping majority, bolstering his stature at the national level and thus give Advani a handle against Modi," the leader explained.

The latest is that the Advani camp is planning to delay the key decision at least till the ' Pitrapaksh' period ends on October 4. " It is starting on September 20, three days after Modi's birthday on September 17, but the warring camps are not ready to give the party's poster boy his ' gift'," he said.

Bhagwat, who was not present in the talks on Sunday, will lead the discussions on politics minus Modi, who will be out to attend a global agricultural summit in Gujarat. Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Chouhan, who is perceived to be in favour of delaying the anointment of Modi, will also join the deliberations on Monday. Sources said that Modi deliberately stayed away from the discussions which will focus on him, but it is highly unlikely that a serious discussion will happen as Advani and Swaraj will avoid it.

Minus them, others from their camp -- Ananth Kumar and Murli Manohar Joshi -- will also not be willing to flag the issue. Even on Sunday, Advani skipped the morning session for a book launch.

Anticipating the stalemate, Bhagwat and his influential party colleague Bhaiyyaji Joshi had conveyed their decision to Advani and Swaraj at meetings earlier this week. The two were told to pave the way for Modi's anointment rather than oppose it.

Anti- Modi camp holds fort despite Sangh's support for the Gujarat CM

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 9, 2013
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