Rajnath virtually anoints Modi as PM candidate

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RAJNATHNew York, July 21;Ruling himself out of the prime ministerial race, BJP president Rajnath Singh on Sunday virtually anointed Narendra Modi as its man to the top job if the party comes to power after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

He also claimed that the party will get more allies nearer elections and after the polls too. The developmental issues rather than the Ram Janma Bhoomi dispute would dominate BJP’s poll campaign.

“It’s not necessary that 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 victory of the party 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 Mr. Modi like other parties do and 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 it could be Mr. Modi who is the prime ministerial candidate, Mr. Singh said the Chief Minister is the certainly the most popular and tallest leader of India now.

“He is a crowd puller not only in Gujarat but also in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — from North to South, East to West. He is one single leader with a national appeal. His popularity will help the party in the elections,” he said.

On the question of party president not being projected as Prime Ministerial candidate in the Lok Sabha elections, he said it is necessarily not the one and the same.

“I am more interested in getting the BJP back into power in Centre and packing off the corruption-ridden bad governance of the Congress in my tenure as President of the party,” he said.

On the question of poll promises, he said BJP would rather go in for developmental debate than Ram Janma Bhoomi issue. “Ram temple was not a major poll issue anytime. It was at best a national issue but not an election issue,” he added.

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 have now realised that BJP is the only solution after comparing the performance-oriented NDA government and corruption-ridden inefficient Congress-led UPA dispensation, he said.

The performances of several BJP-ruled states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh are there for the people to see and if these states can provide 24 hour power supply, clean and efficient government, fillip to industries compared to poor performance of many Congress-ruled State governments what would people prefer? People have made up their mind, he said.

Detailing steps taken by the BJP to face the national elections in 2014, he said the party had brought changes in organisational level by forming polling booth committees in every booth.

“We have formed a committee consisting of 10 to 15 party men at grass root level to strengthen the organisation at village level,” he said.

Congress ruled for 10 long years at national level and what are their achievements other than “wholesale corruption and compromise” in national and international security, he asked.

Indian voters have now realised that when the Centre can’t guarantee growth rate of five per cent or less, the growth rate in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are approximately 10 per cent. No one can fool Indian voters any more, he said.

On the recent debacle of the party in Karnataka and setbacks in other states, the BJP president said assembly elections and municipal polls are different from parliament elections where people vote for a stable government.

Congress will be out of power soon, he said.

“We are confident that the failure of the Congress government will help BJP return to power in the center. Any political party that aspires to come to power should give good governance and satisfy the needs of the people. If they fail in this front, they will be out of power.”

There is wholesale failure of the UPA government on economic front, compromise on internal and external security and diplomatic fronts as well, he said, adding people are demanding a change very badly.

“If people want any change, the only choice is BJP who can provide an alternative to this government,” he said.

On allies deserting the party, he said BJP would try to get a clear majority in Lok Sabha polls but at the same time will not forget its allies — old and new.

“Despite a clear majority in sight, we want our allies to participate in the government at the centre. Now we have Shiv Sena and Shironmani Akali Dal and may get some nearer to the elections. There is also a possibility of post poll alliance with like minded parties if there is a need,” he said.

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