Modi looks out of Gujarat, meets NDA allies
Monday, January 14, 2008 at 0054 hrs IST
Gandhinagar, January 13
Emboldened by his party’s thumping win in the just-concluded Assembly polls in Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi is rearing to play a bigger role in the national politics ahead of the Lok Sabha elections due in 2009. He is reportedly in touch with leaders of some of the NDA constituents to acquire a national acceptance.
Modi left for Kerala on Sunday evening, where he will have a night halt during which he will interact with state-level BJP leaders. After offering prayers at the famous Guru Vayur temple in Cochin at 5 am on Monday, he will fly off to Chennai to share a Pongal lunch with former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa the same day.
After his Chennai visit, the Gujarat CM will be in Mumbai to attend a public meeting to be organised jointly by the BJP and its NDA ally Shiv Sena at the Shivaji Park on January 20 to felicitate him on his recent poll victory. During his Mumbai visit, Modi will interact with the senior leaders of his party as well as Shiv Sena, including Udhav Thakre, said a senior BJP leader.
Modi’s visit to Chennai is being seen as harbinger of some political changes at the national level.
When Jayalalitha learnt that Modi would be in Chennai on January 14 to take part in the 37th annual day celebrations of Tughlaq being run by Cho Ramaswamy, she extended the Gujarat CM the lunch invite.
Sources in the BJP said on Sunday that on the sidelines of the Pongal lunch, Modi would interact with the AIADMK chief and a discussion between the two was likely to revolve around the prevailing political scenario in Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country.
Modi has a good rapport with Jayalalithaa. She was one of the first to call up and congratulate the CM on his recent poll victory. Even in 2002, she had flown down to Ahmedabad to be part of the swearing-in ceremony before a huge crowd at the Sardar Patel Stadium. “Jayalalithaaji could not make it this time, for the flight from Chennai was delayed that day,” a Modi loyalist said.
Modi’s Chennai visit followed by the one to Mumbai is being seen as one of the first significant steps by him to acquire a national acceptance by NDA allies after the BJP’s victory in the recent elections.
“The BJP’s poll victory has already propelled our charismatic leader into a national scene. With Pramod Mahajan being no more and firebrand leader Uma Bharati out of the BJP, there is hardly any young dynamic leader left in the party who can influence the masses the way he did in the Gujarat polls. Narendrabhai is certainly cut out for a bigger role to play ahead of the 2009 general elections,” said a senior state BJP leader.
He said that Modi has started establishing contacts not only with leaders of NDA allies, but also with his senior party leaders in other states after the central BJP leadership made it amply clear that his services would be utilised on the national stage.
Two days after his Chennai visit, Modi is scheduled to go to the BJP-ruled Chhatisgarh on January 16.
His Chhatisgarh counterpart has invited him to attend a function organised to mark the launch of a welfare scheme in that state.
With the BJP emerging victorious in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh polls, the party is keen to give Modi a free hand in the national scene as it prepares for the 2009 Parliamentary elections.
“Given the fact that Modi single-handedly fought the Gujarat Assembly elections and scored a victory for his party to retain power in the state, the BJP bosses in Delhi, too, should be willing to give him an opportunity to play a bigger role at the national level,” said a senior BJP functionary.
The Indian Express