‘No two views about his competence, he has done great work ’
In the first clear signal that the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party may not be averse to projecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, senior leader Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday that “there is no doubt” that he was fit to hold the country’s top job.
Ms. Swaraj, who arrived in Vadodara to campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections, said: “There is no line [in the BJP for the Prime Minister’s post]; Narendra Modi is indeed competent and fit to be Prime Minister.”
Talking to reporters, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha said: “There is no doubt, there are no two views about his competence. He has done great work in Gujarat.”
Mr. Modi, who has maintained that Gujarat’s development remains his focus and one of whose campaign hoardings says, “Give me five more years,” highlighted the same theme as he launched the final leg of electioneering from Somnath on Saturday.
“There has been a constant campaign to malign Gujarat and its people for the past 11 years. When the world speaks of Gujarat, it speaks of development; when it talks of Delhi, it speaks about corruption,” Mr. Modi said, addressing a series of meetings.
Siddhu’s remark causes flutter
Meanwhile, in what has rattled one of the founding fathers of the BJP in Gujarat — the former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel — the party’s star campaigner Navjot Singh Siddhu called him desh drohi.
Addressing a rally at Visavadar, from where Mr. Patel is contesting, on Thursday evening, the details of which trickled in only on Saturday, Mr. Siddhu termed Mr. Patel, a dyed-in-the-wool RSS man and one of the founders of the Jan Sangh in Gujarat, a desh drohi.
This is one charge that no BJP leader worth his salt in the State, including Mr. Modi, would dare make against Mr. Patel.
“This is below the belt, not proper; this will damage us immensely,” a party leader said, requesting anonymity. BJP spokesperson Vijay Rupani was in denial mode, claiming Mr. Siddhu meant to call Mr. Patel anti-party and not anti-national.
On Saturday, Mr. Patel called a press conference and condemned the BJP, asserting that as the party was finding it an uphill task in Saurashtra, Mr. Modi and the BJP had conspired to get an outsider like Mr. Siddhu to say something like this.