Ruling himself out of the prime ministerial race, BJP president Rajnath Singh on Sunday virtually anointed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate if the party won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Mr. Singh claimed the party would get more allies as the elections drew nearer and after the polls too. Developmental issues rather than the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, would dominate BJP’s poll campaign, he emphasised: “Ram temple was never a major poll issue anytime. It was at best a national issue.”
He said: “It’s not necessary that the party president should also be a crowd-puller and a prime ministerial candidate. I have an assignment to do for my party. I have a job to deliver — that is [the party’s] victory in the 2014 elections.”
“Seven months before the elections, I have nominated Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as chairman of the party’s Election Campaign Committee. What is unusual in that? We have nominated Modi like other parties do. Why read between lines? I have named him as campaign head in view of his image, popularity and commitment to the party,” he told a press conference here at the start of his five-day trip to New York and Washington.
Giving all indications that Mr. Modi could be the PM candidate, Mr. Singh said the Chief Minister was certainly the most popular and tallest leader in India now.
“He is a crowd-puller not only in Gujarat but also in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar . He is one single leader with a national appeal. His popularity will help the party in the elections,” Mr. Singh said.
On the question of the party president not being projected as the PM candidate, he said it was necessarily not the one and same. “I am more interested in getting the BJP back into power [at the Centre] and packing off the corruption-ridden bad governance of the Congress in my tenure as president of the BJP,” he said.
Accompanied by party MP Ananth Kumar, and leaders Vijay Jolly and Sudanshu Trivedi, Mr. Singh will present a key note address on India, Afghanistan and regional security at a conference in Washington on Tuesday.
People of India had realised that the BJP was the only solution.