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RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has apparently been engaged in “dinner diplomacy” to build a consensus in the BJP over the timing of naming Narendra Modi as the party’s 2014 prime ministerial candidate even as the Gujarat chief minister is thought to be getting frustrated over the delay.
Bhagwat is learnt to have discussed the issue with party patriarch L K Advani and the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj over dinner earlier this week.
While party leaders remained tightlipped about the meeting, sources said the RSS chief’s “dinner diplomacy” was a bid to develop a consensus on the issue that has divided the BJP’s top leadership.
While Modi’s projection is a fait accompli, the party remains divided on whether the declaration should be made before or after the Assembly elections due later this year.
Besides Bhagwat, RSS number two Bhaiyyaji Joshi also met Advani and Swaraj on Sunday to discuss the same issue. BJP president Rajnath Singh was also present at the meeting involving Joshi but he met Bhagwat separately over a week back to discuss the issue.
The hectic parleys come in the wake of mounting pressure from Modi supporters within the party to announce his candidature soon after the monsoon session of Parliament ends Saturday.
Modi had said on Thursday that he did not dream of any position and wanted to fulfill his mandate in Gujarat until 2017. This was construed in party circles as an expression of his frustration with the party’s dithering over formally naming him as the PM candidate.
Moves by the RSS to forge a consensus in the party assume significance as it can play a decisive role on the issue given the numbers of different camps in the BJP’s apex parliamentary board.
At the top, with Advani and Swaraj holding out against an early announcement, there is a “tie” between the top four decision-makers in the party.
“Without any disrespect to any parliamentary board member, the BJP president, L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley remain the real decision-makers. As things stand today, there is a tie,” said a BJP source.
Even in the 12-member parliamentary board, there are 11 voting members - excluding Atal Behari Vajpayee - and the situation again appears evenly balanced if the ambiguous positions of former BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Thawarchand Gehlot are considered.
“Technically speaking, the decision will be taken by the party parliamentary board. And the position, as on today,