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New BJP president hints at bigger role for Modi

Rajnath hails Gujarat chief minister as a popular leader

Gulf News

New Delhi: The newly appointed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh has hinted at handing over a greater role for the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the party.

Modi has emerged as the frontrunner to be projected by the party as its prime ministerial candidate during the 2014 general elections following BJP’s victory in the recently held assembly elections.

Singh, who took over as the new BJP president in place of Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday, termed Modi as a popular leader across the country, adding Modi had turned Gujarat into a model state since becoming chief minister in October 2001.

“I will soon begin discussions with central leaders on this. I will be speaking to Narendra Modi also,” Singh said in a television interview yesterday.

Incidentally, a couple of surveys have come out with predictions that if elections were held now, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) under Modi’s leadership will come to power at the centre.

Singh’s predecessor Gadkari is understood to have entered into an agreement with Modi under which Modi was to be rewarded with the post of chairman of the party’s campaign committee for 2014 general elections in lieu of his support to Gadkari for a second term in office.

Gadkari, however, had to quit faced with resentment over his candidature in view of corruption charges leveled against him, which many felt would harm BJP’s prospects.

Singh and Modi were not at the best of terms when Singh the party in his first tenure between 2005 and 2009.

Singh has made it clear that he is not in the running for the prime ministerial post, saying he is happy serving the organisation.

The BJP president has hinted that a final decision about who will be projected as its prime ministerial candidate would be decided soon by the party’s parliamentary board, the apex decision making body of the BJP.

Singh termed clean image, popularity and acceptability as prerequisites for the prime ministerial candidate and added that he would strive to ensure no one with corruption taint would be nominated for elections under his leadership. “I will ensure that anyone facing charges which are prima facie substantiated will not be allowed to hold a post and will even be denied a ticket,” Singh said in the interview.