Reiterating that he did not want to be part of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government if it came to power, Rajnath Singh said he would prefer to continue as BJP president.
His assertion, which came for the third time in a television interview, has created a buzz among BJP circles that he could be positioning himself for a possible post-poll scenario if the number game did not favour Modi
Singh’s aides, however, maintained that the BJP chief was clear about his line of thought and there was no “hidden agenda” on his part. But other BJP leaders said Singh’s stand indicated the possibility of a tussle for the second slot after Modi in the new government — if the BJP-led NDA got enough numbers after the Lok Sabha poll results on May 16.
“I am the president of the party. My responsibilities have been fixed beforehand. When I wasn’t the president, I was in the government. My responsibilities are already decided and I think, in the BJP, I have many colleagues who are capable (and) who should be given a chance in the government,” Singh told NDTV in an interview.
“No matter what happens, under any circumstance, Modi will be India’s PM. I want to clarify this as the president of the party. Because just by sitting in an office, people can’t run a government,” he said.
He had made similar remarks in interviews to other channels earlier. He maintained that the party too would need attention and his term as party chief runs till 2016. However, Singh, who was agriculture minister in the Vajpayee government, could actually be aiming for a key portfolio like defence or home, BJP insiders said.
Many BJP and RSS leaders have held that Modi stands the best chance of becoming prime minister after the Lok Sabha elections and he alone will decide what course the BJP takes if it fails to get the required numbers on its own steam.
As Singh did on Friday, they have dismissed speculation about a ‘Plan B’ in the BJP as “empty talk”. They even said all reports pointed to a “huge surge” in favour of the Modi-led BJP campaign. Their assessment continued to be that Modi would make it “without difficulty”.
The talk of a “deputy PM” started last month after Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal suggested that Arun Jaitley, BJP’s Amritsar candidate, could be given that post in the event of an NDA government coming to power. Jaitley, however, dismissed the remark as simply a gesture of Badal’s affection for him.
Last month, Singh had added to the buzz with two controversial tweets, the first saying “Ab ki baar, Bhajapa sarkar (time for a BJP government)” that he replaced 33 minutes later with “Ab ki baar, Modi sarkar (time for a Modi government)”.