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Internal power struggle haunts India's main opposition BJP ahead of next year's general elections


08:21, June 03, 2013

NEW DELHI, June 2 (Xinhua) -- With barely a year to go for the general elections, internal power struggle seems to be apparently coming to the fore in India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over who would be the saffron outfit's prime ministerial candidate.

In a sudden turn of events, BJP's seniormost leader and the country's former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani has taken a clear swipe at the front-runner for the party's prime ministerial candidate in 2014 polls, Narendra Modi, the controversial three- time Chief Minister of the western state of Gujarat.

The 85-year-old leader rated BJP's Chief Minister of the central state of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, higher than Modi at a party meeting in the state capital of Bhopal on Saturday.

Showering praises, Advani said that Chouhan's "humility" reminded him of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was BJP's Prime Minister from 1999 to 2004. "Vajpayee always remained very humble and far away from arrogance. Similarly, I found Chouhan very humble, like Vajpayee," he said.

Advani also said that Gujarat was already economically prosperous when Modi took over and that the BJP leader had only made it better.

"I always tell Narendra Modi that Gujarat was already prosperous. You have multiplied the development there. But Madhya Pradhesh and Chhattisgarh were not so prosperous. After multiplying the rate of development in Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj is still humble as a person," he added.

Political experts say that Advani's dig at Modi and pitting Chouhan against the Gujarat Chief Minister are clear indications of an internal feud in BJP ahead of next year's general elections.

"Rating Modi's Madhya Pradesh counterpart higher than him is a direct jab at the Gujarat Chief Minister who prefers to detail how he scripted his state's economic growth story in every speech that he makes," Delhi-based political analyst Prof Ajay Sharma said.

The experts feel that while a large chunk of people in BJP want Modi to be the party's prime ministerial candidate in 2014 polls, many senior leaders, including Advani, and the party's alliance partners are not akin to the Gujarat Chief Minister being projected as the man who would lead India.

"Advani is also a claimant for the prime ministerial post at such a ripe age. And his perception only bolsters the ruling Congress party's claims that Modi's success in Gujarat has been actually built on the foundation that its governments had laid in the state," another political expert Prof S.K. Gupta said.

He added: "The remarks also give ammunition to those BJP leaders opposed to Modi as well as the party's alliance partners like the eastern state of Bihar's ruling Janata Dal (United) which claims that the taint of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat during Modi's rule makes him unacceptable."

The experts say if the BJP can't address their internal strife as fast as possible, then it would only benefit the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance which is entangled in a series of corruption scams and slammed for its inability to check inflation.

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