Party wasn’t consulted about Modi as PM: Rajnath Singh (Interview)

April 30th, 2009 - 7:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Neerja Chowdhury
New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh says the party was not consulted before its leaders like Arun Shourie declared that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi could be a prime ministerial candidate in the next elections.

Rajnath Singh, whose constituency Ghaziabad on the outskirts of Delhi goes to polls May 7, said categorically that there was no question of such a decision having been taken.

“Sawal hi nahin hota. Yeh kya bacchon ka khel hai? Aise hi keh rahen hain (There is no question. Is this child’s play? These people are talking just like that),” Rajnath Singh told IANS.

Shourie has spoken of Modi as the next prime ministerial candidate after L.K. Advani. His view was subsequently endorsed by other senior leaders like Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad and M. Venkaiah Naidu .

But Rajnath Singh, who was speaking to this correspondent at his campaign headquarters in Ghaziabad, asserted: “Advaniji hain. Aur aagey bhi rahenge(Advaniji remains the party’s prime ministerial choice and will continue to be so in the future).”

But Rajnath Singh said this was not the way to make decisions. “BJP desh ki bari party hai (The BJP is a big party).”

Ironically, it is the acolytes of Advani who have projected Modi as a “future” prime minister bang in the middle of an election campaign when Advani is the party’s present candidate. And it is Rajnath Singh, considered Advani’s bete noire, who is standing up for him.

Experts say the idea of the Shourie salvo was to further consolidate Gujarat behind Modi. They say the idea of projecting Modi as Advani’s successor was to play on Gujarati pride and convert the electoral battle into a Modi versus Congress one.

An increase of MPs in the BJP kitty, they argue, would after all help Advani.

This time Modi has resorted to “social engineering” in Gujarat and fielded OBC candidates, but in many places the powerful and dominant Patel community which had been with the BJP has started to move away, partly in a show of unhappiness with the marginalisation of former chief minister Kesubhai Patel.

The old timer versus new entrant dilemma has also made the situation uncertain for the BJP in some seats. Even Advani, who is being opposed by a Patel candidate, had to spend the last three days in his constituency Gandhinagar doing road shows.

That the projection of Modi as the BJP’s future prime ministerial candidate could lead to weakening of Advani’s authority and may have also been aimed at preventing Rajnath Singh from positioning himself as the number two after the elections is a side story.

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