The BJP on Monday demanded to know why Rahul Gandhi was at the centre of the Congress’s publicity blitzkrieg, when the party was yet to declare him its prime ministerial candidate.

Targeting the Congress, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the party wanted to shield Mr. Gandhi from criticism in case of an electoral debacle. Despite Mr. Gandhi figuring prominently in the party’s campaign, the Congress was unwilling to admit it was officially projecting him as its prime ministerial candidate. “An adverse result may make him accountable. It is therefore attempting an alternative strategy of having a de facto candidate rather than a de jure one,” Mr. Jaitley said in statement here.

The BJP leader said: “Ostensibly, the party has decided not to have a prime ministerial candidate. Effectively, the campaign is centred on one person, who is the Congress Party’s ‘candidate in purdah.’ In the campaign that has appeared so far, there is no mention of the present Prime Minister. There is no mention of the performance of the UPA government. It has not even a mention of the Congress party president. The entire campaign is centred around Rahul Gandhi.”

Mr. Jaitley also raised questions about the Congress Party’s budget for advertisements ahead of the general election and called the content of the messages “curious”. Mr. Gandhi at a rally in Lucknow recently said he would consider taking up the top job if his party came to power and the MPs picked him.

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