Modi anointed Chairman of BJP poll campaign panel

Panaji: Ignoring perceived opposition from veteran L K Advani and some other senior leaders, BJP on Sunday anointed Narendra Modi as its Election Campaign Committee Chairman for the 2014 polls, just short of making him the prime ministerial candidate.

Modi, considered a polarising figure after the post-Godhra riots in 2002, was handed over the responsibility of the party's election campaign at the two-day meeting of the National Executive from which Advani kept away citing ill health as did some other leaders including Jaswant Singh, Uma Bharati and Shatrughan Sinha.

"I want to give you a significant information. …I have announced (at the National Executive) that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as Chairman of the BJP Election Campaign Committee, keeping in mind the challenge of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and to achieve victory in the polls," party President Rajnath Singh told the media at the conclusion of the deliberations.

The announcement, which was received with a huge round of clappoing and standing ovation in the meeting, was made in a terse statement by Singh who was flanked by Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, former President M Venkaiah Naidu, General Secretary Ananth Kumar among others. No questions were taken at the media interaction.

"Whatever has happened has happened on the basis of consensus," Singh said without elaborating.

The decision to plump for Modi in a crucial role came after two days of deliberations and dilemma in a virtual gamble to galvanise the cadre ignoring the claims of Advani, so far considered tallest party leader after Vajpayee.