At National Executive, Rajnath lauds Gujarat Chief Minister’s performance

Given the growing clamour among cadres for making Narendra Modi the prime ministerial candidate, the Gujarat Chief Minister will hog the limelight at the two-day BJP National Council meeting beginning here on Saturday. In fact, senior leaders are reconciled to the prospect of his overshadowing the event.

The meeting is ostensibly to formalise the election of Rajnath Singh as party president and gear up the party to the series of Assembly elections (Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi) in the run-up to the 2014 general election. At the National Executive on Friday, Mr. Singh spoke about the European Union’s decision to re-connect with Mr. Modi. “Despite several campaigns against him [the Gujarat Chief Minister] they [EU] are trying to build new relations with him,” BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad quoted Mr. Singh as telling delegates.

“The party president accorded a special welcome to Narendra Modi. He has created a new record among the BJP Chief Ministers by being the first to be re-elected for the third consecutive term with a very convincing majority. All the National Executive members also welcomed him,” Mr. Prasad told a press conference. The campaign for Modi-as-PM has, however, become an embarrassment for the BJP for two reasons. Some of the allies, particularly the JD(U), have made it known that they have reservations about Modi’s secular credentials after the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Moreover, some of the senior BJP leaders continue to nurse prime ministerial ambitions.

To a question whether Mr. Singh lauding Mr. Modi was a signal that the BJP had settled in his favour as the prime ministerial candidate, Mr. Prasad said: “I think the national president has clarified repeatedly. Let me reiterate it today. We are very proud of the leadership of Narendra Modi.

He was appreciated, complimented because of the historic third win, being the first BJP Chief Minister to do so. But who the PM candidate is will be decided by the party’s Parliamentary Board at the appropriate time.”