Modi most popular leader in country, says Rajnath

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Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh on Monday described Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the most popular political leader in the country. The statement comes two days after senior leader L.K. Advani lauded Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s style of functioning.

To a question by journalists here, Mr. Singh denied that there was a cold war among BJP leaders. “If a cold war is going on, it is going on in the Congress. There is no cold war in the BJP.”

Mr. Singh said there could be no two opinions that Mr. Modi was the most popular leader in the country.

Suggesting that Mr. Advani’s statement was interpreted wrongly by the media as indicating a preference for Mr. Chouhan to Mr. Modi as a prime ministerial candidate, the BJP chief denied Mr. Advani was pitting one leader against the other. He would convene a meeting of the Central Parliamentary Board to take whatever decision needed to be taken (on the prime ministerial candidate).

The BJP leader urged the UPA government to advance the monsoon session of Parliament and declared that his party was willing to discuss the food security and land acquisition Bills. “We want them passed with amendments.”

He claimed there was a plan to promulgate an ordinance on the food security Bill and asked the government not to play a “cruel joke” on the poor.

Chhattisgarh attack

Mr. Singh described as “unfortunate” the Maoist attack on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh and accused the UPA government of politicising the incident by making the State government accountable. Naxalism was a national problem and not a mere law and order issue. All parties need to counter the threat unitedly. The Central government had neither conviction nor strategy to resolve the problem, he charged.

“Failure on all fronts”

Wondering what there was for the UPA government to celebrate in its nine-year rule, the BJP chief said it had failed on all fronts, including security, economic and diplomatic.

It had promised to roll back the prices of essential commodities within 100 days of assuming office but even after 1,460 days they were still rising. The fiscal deficit had become uncontrollable, the current account deficit had increased and the value of the rupee had an accelerated fall.

He criticised the government for not lodging strong protests with Pakistan over the beheading of two Indian soldiers and China for intrusion of its troops into Indian territory.

Mr. Singh also hit out at the UPA government for not fulfilling its promise on creation of the Telangana State. He said the BJP would create the new State within a year if it returned to power at the Centre.

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