Modi draws flak from senior party figures over poll loss
NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was hit Tuesday with the first open internal challenge to his leadership since taking power, with senior members of his party expressing anger at the loss of a key state election. Onetime Modi mentor LK Advani and three other veterans of his right-leaning Bharatiya Janata Par ty (BJP) issued a statement that appeared to accuse the premier of failing to seek consensus, without naming him directly.
“The principal reason for the latest defeat is the way the party has been emasculated in the last year,” the joint letter released to the media said.
“A thorough review must be done of the reasons for the defeat as well as the way the party is being forced to kowtow... and how its consensual character has been destroyed,” the letter added.
The octogenarian figures have largely been sidelined by Modi since his landslide victory in May 2014, but have not spoken out in such a public forum until now. It came as the premier takes stock of a humiliating defeat last Sunday in one of India’s most populous states, Bihar.
Modi had addressed dozens of rallies, attracting thousands of people, in the key east Indian state and promised voters billions of dollars for social and economic projects, but to no avail.
Advani, a former deputy prime minister, was one of the nationalist BJP’s founding members, and is widely credited for leading the party’s expansion in its formative years.
He is also recognized as one of the few leaders who groomed Modi for power, until they reportedly fell out over competing political ambitions. Observers said that the revolt posed no direct challenge to Modi’s authority unless it inspired other, younger leaders to speak out. “Logical to join BJP revolt against Modi if 2014-19 is your last realistic shot at power. Daft if you have a longer political time horizon,” Sadanand Dhume, resident fellow at Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, said. —AFP