Arun Jaitley warns BJP elevation of Narendra Modi may help Cong win votes

Arun JaitleyModi's elevation has not pushed BJP on backfoot, but party is worried how that will affect voters.. (Indian Express)

Amidst a rising clamour for projecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party's prime ministerial candidate, the BJP has been weighing Modi's rising popularity against his potential to polarise the electorate.

It is at this juncture that senior party leader Arun Jaitley is learnt to have cautioned party leaders against the Congress's trap to polarise Muslim support to its advantage during his address to BJP national office-bearers and state unit chiefs on Sunday.

Sources who were present at the meeting said Jaitley pointed out that in several states it was the regional parties who had more influence among the Muslim support base than the Congress. As a natural corollary, these parties should get more Muslim support during the elections.

But Jaitley fears that the Congress may polarise the electorate in the run-up to polls. In this context, Jaitley was learnt to have highlighted the good show by the Congress in Uttar Pradesh during the 2009 elections.

Sources said he reasoned that the Congress managed to rally Muslim support base in Terai region, an area with substantial Muslim population and closer to Ayodhya, in the state as it won 21 seats. Incidentally, the BJP had projected L K Advani, whose Rath Yatra for a temple at Ayodhya had polarised the state more than a decade ago, as its prime ministerial candidate in the last election.

Apprehending that the Congress may again do so, the BJP leader was learnt to have cautioned party leaders not get provoked by the ruling party's attempts and continue its tirade against the Congress for its alleged misgovernance.

Given the fact that Advani was the original polariser of the BJP and Modi emerged as a new polarising figure a decade latter, Jaitley's remarks evoked curiousity within the party. However, sources sought to assert that his remarks were not aimed at any particular person but more against the Congress' design. "His remarks on this issue were not against any person's polarising potential. It was against Congress' trick to polarise the electorate. He cautioned party leaders to be aware of this old Congress trick of polarisation and avoid getting into this trap," said a source.

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