After Advani's praise for Chouhan, Rajnath says Modi most popular

After Advani's praise for Chouhan, Rajnath says Modi most popular

Days after L K Advani appeared to have preferred Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over Narendra Modi in the race for BJP's prime ministerial candidate, party president Rajnath Singh today said the Gujarat heavyweight was the "most popular leader" in the country.

True to his reputation for humility, Chouhan himself described Modi as his "senior and elder brother" and sought to rule himself out of race for being projected as BJP's prime ministerial face.

"I think Advani's statement has been wrongly interpreted. There cannot be two opinions that Narendra Modi is the most popular leader in the country," Singh told a press conference in Hyderabad.

He was asked whether Advani had pitched Chouhan against Modi by lavishing praise on the Madhya Pradesh chief minister.

He, however, clarified that who would be the BJP's candidate for prime ministership would be decided by the party's Parliamentary Board.

Chouhan, whose humility Advani had said was akin to that of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, sought to downplay the controversy, saying the BJP veteran had not praised any individual but the style of functioning of party chief ministers.

"I want to say with all humility that Advani first praised Narendra Modi for his excellent work. He then praised Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh Chief Minister). He also extolled Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. Advani also praised the work done by BJP's Madhya Pradesh government led by me.

"So he did not praise any individual. He praised all (BJP) chief ministers, our style of functioning. This is what he meant to say...this is the gist of what he said," Chouhan told reporters in Bhopal.

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