Why RSS pushed for Modi as PM candidate before state elections?


Rajnath Singh anointed Modi as BJP’s PM candidate on Sep. 13, 2013, backed by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Tallest leader of the party, L.K.Advani, was reportedly unhappy with the decision and stayed away from BJP’s Parliamentary Board meeting creating lot of controversy. Advani camp wanted the name to be announced only after results to state elections in Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Manipur were announced, while RSS wanted to rush through the announcement before the advent of pitri-paksh. We will see below why?

Results to the 5 state elections were announced in December. BJP retained MP and Chhattisgarh, snatched Rajasthan from Congress by a thumping majority & emerged as the single largest party in Delhi. Party has no presence in Manipur and Congress won there on expected lines. Manipur sends only 1 member to Lok Sabha and hence is not important from national election prospects.


2008 Elections

2013 Elections


Madhya Pradesh
















*Including Shiromani Akali Dal.

What do these results actually throw out?

Interpretation No. 1: Results of 4-0 show that BJP benefitted from Modi wave across the Hindi heartland. In Delhi ultimately Aam Aadmi Party formed the government with Congress support. Then also the score is 3-1. It shows that Modi was actually able to convert turnouts into votes and BJP made a right decision. These states send 72 MPs to Lok Sabha and good performance in this region will propel BJP to form govt. at the center in 2014.

Interpretation No. 2: BJP won MP & Chhattisgarh due to development work done by their Chief Ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh respectively. BJP would have retained these two states even if they had not announced Modi as PM candidate. Plus in Rajasthan if you go by the trend it was BJP’s chance to win this time. Since 1985, electorate of Rajasthan has always thrown out incumbent govt. and given chance to opposition to form govt. It follows a trend similar to that witnessed in Tamil Nadu. This makes the results 0-1 instead of 3-1 as shown above.

Confusing indeed! Modi held ~50 rallies across these 4 states covering ~300 seats and BJP won 215 out of them as detailed below.


No. of Rallies held by Modi

No. of constituencies covered No. of seats won by BJP Retentions

New Acquisitions

Madhya Pradesh


72 52 49




38 22 21




140 116 56




50 25 16


Source: www.newsanalysisindia.com

Modi supporters would quote a success rate of 72%. Clearly Modi helped BJP to get many new seats in Rajasthan and Delhi. But critics would still say, difficult to attribute how many seats have been won actually due to Modi, Congress was bound to lose in Rajasthan. Again retentions in MP & Chhattisgarh would also be challenged by the same logic.

I remember Aaron Levenstein’s famous quote ‘Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital” at this time. Plus you can use the same set of data to put different viewpoints as above.

So was the victory in state elections due to Modi?

It can’t be said very convincingly. His presence did rejuvenate BJP cadre and definitely played a role. But victory was not due to Modi alone for sure.

Why RSS pushed for Modi before state elections?

RSS knew that BJP had strong chances in the 4 states, hence pushed for Modi’s anointment as PM candidate. This way Modi would take credit for the results and help in building a wave. Advani camp resisted the move knowing fully well that after state results it would use interpretation no. 2 to dodge RSS attempts to anoint Modi. Plus 2 new claimants would have come in Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The pro-Modi (Rajnath / RSS) and anti-Modi (Advani) camps would have fought vigorously post state polls if Modi’s name was not announced both giving above view points. Advani camp would have put up names of Chouhan & Raman Singh also as claimants.  The war would have been murkier, but Modi would have still prevailed.

Would BJP have still named Modi as PM candidate if announcement were to be made after state polls?

Chouhan / Raman do not enjoy the same stature nationally as Modi. Advani is too old now, out of favour with RSS. Sushama’s name could have also propped up, she’s a lady, has good experience, but again her national stature and non-aggressive image would have been questioned. Others like Jaitley and Murli Manohar have no mass appeal.

BJP would have still gone ahead with Modi who has good popularity among youth on social media and has RSS blessings. It is difficult to judge him on state election results and Lok Sabha results will actually be his real test. BJP naming Modi is akin to India sending Sachin Tendulkar, their best batsman to open the innings when chasing a huge target. They have put their best foot forward. Only time will tell whether this was a correct decision….

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