Rajnath virtually anoints Modi as PM candidate
Ruling himself out of the prime ministerial race, BJP President Rajnath Singh today 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 Janam 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 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 Modi who is the prime ministerial candidate, 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 Center 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, 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.
PIn the coming Lok Sabha elections, Congress will be routed in Andhra Pradesh due to its ambiguity in Telengana issue. The BJP is the only national party that favors separate Telengana and it was passed as a resolution in our national executive committee meeting, he said.
There is no ambiguity in the BJP unlike the Congress camp in the matter and BJP is in favour of Telengana. But it's not in favour of bifurcation of UP and other states as Telengana issue is a totally different one.
"BJP government will consider instituting an inquiry commission to go into the corruption and scandals of the Congress government and will provide transparent and honest government with people's interest as uppermost," he said.
Ananth Kumar, BJP general secretary and chairman of Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee who is accompanying Singh on the US tour, said the four member BJP delegation will meet members of the US Senate and House of Representatives from both sides of the aisle - Democratic Party and the Republicans especially members of the Congressional Caucus of Indians and Indian Americans at the Capitol Hill.
Kumar said Singh's visit to the US is a two track outreach programme - to assess the mood of three million Indian-Americans across the nation who occupies important and powerful positions besides being opinion makers. It's part of outreach programme to meet the Indian Diaspora.
The other two members of the delegation are Trivedi, party spokesman and advisor to the BJP President and Jolly, BJP's national convener for Overseas Affairs.
Jolly said, "We (BJP) want to work closely with Non Resident Indians." BJP clearly is of the view India and the US has a close correlation in internal and external security and a strategic partner being natural allies, he said.
Singh said it was NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee that gave voting rights to NRIs and introduced Overseas Citizens Card (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card. It was under Vajpayee's leadership that the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was held in 2003 in New Delhi to bring all the NRIs and Diaspora Indians to work for the welfare of India.
On the spate of killing of Hindu and BJP leaders in Tamil Nadu, he said he would appeal to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to give protection to party leaders.
"I appeal to Jayalalithaa to help stop the killing of Hindu and BJP leaders in Tamil Nadu. We will try to build pressure on state government so that it takes it seriously to put an end to such killings," Singh said.