Now, Sushma says Modi fit to be PM

FP

In a fresh boost to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's national aspirations, the BJP's Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, Saturday said there is no doubt that Modi is competent to become India's prime minister.

The comments by Swaraj, who has herself been identified by party president Nitin Gadkari as one of six potential names for the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, came in response to a question from reporters at the Vadodara airport.

"Narendra Modi is competent for the post of prime minister, there are no two opinions about this," she said when asked if she thought Modi was a fit candidate for the top job.

In the state to campaign for the Assembly elections later this month, Swaraj also heaped praise on Modi's government and said she was sure the Congress would be defeated.

"Gujarat has seen tremendous growth in both industry and agriculture because of the policies adopted by Modi. Gujarat has seen 11 per cent agricultural growth while the national average is 3 per cent. The country could not have attained even 3 per cent growth if Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh had not contributed to this," Swaraj later told a public meeting in the city.

Although the BJP is yet to start the process of identifying its prime ministerial candidate, Swaraj's remarks are considered significant as they are seen as lending weight to Modi's claim after the elections in Gujarat, where the party expects to retain power comfortably.

Gadkari has identified six top leaders - L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi - as potential PM candidates. But NDA partner JD(U) has indicated its reservations against the party's plans to project Modi as the prime ministerial candidate.

Nevertheless, the clamour for Modi's ascendancy has been gaining ground within the BJP even though the Shiv Sena's Bal Thackeray, two months before he died in November, described Swaraj as deserving of being the NDA's candidate for prime minister.

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