Jaya invites Modi to lunch, BJP happy
NEW DELHI: Moditva’s appeal is spreading, much to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s joy. Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa is hosting a Pongal day lunch for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, a “rare honour”.
On January 14, over a meal of rice made from freshly harvested grain, the two leaders are to discuss politics.
This is perhaps the first recognition of Modi’s newfound aura after his emphatic victory in Gujarat. While Jayalalitha has so far kept the BJP guessing about her intentions despite gestures like voting for Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in the presidential elections and severing her ties with the third front.
It would be for the first time since 2004 that Jayalalithaa would be confabulating with a senior BJP leader.
Jayalalithaa had sent a very warm letter to Modi on December 23 when the Gujarat poll results were declared: “Your spectacular victory has brought hope and cheer to the vast majority of people in this nation who now believe that all is not lost and India can still be saved from the clutches of unscrupulous power mongers.”
While she did not name anyone it was widely speculated that her reference to “unscrupulous power mongers” was aimed at Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Both Modi and Jayalalithaa are strong, individualistic leaders who share a strong anti-Sonia sentiment. Sources said she had extended her invitation on December 23. While this time she did not make it to Ahmedabad for Modi’s swearing-in, she was there in 2002.
The official purpose of Modi’s visit to Chennai is, however, different. He is going there to attend the annual function of a media house and receive its award for person of the year.
Sources said Modi discussed the issue with leader of the opposition LK Advani who advised him to go as it offered a huge opportunity both for him and the party, particularly with an eye on the next parliamentary elections.
Modi has already registered his first presence as a strategist with the BJP’s central leadership when he visited Delhi on December 29 to attend a meeting convened by Advani to make an assessment of the current political scenario and formulate a strategy for the future. No other chief minister was invited to that meeting.