Rajnath Singh steers diplomatic course on Narendra Modi, says no race in BJP for PM's post

National
Back at the helm by the sudden turn of events, new BJP President Rajnath Singh today steered clear of questions about the party's Prime Ministerial candidate or about Narendra Modi being one, saying there is no race in the party for the top post.

He said a call on the issue will be taken at the right time and leaders will decide.

"In our party, for the post Prime Minister or Chief Minister there is no race and nor does anyone stake their claim. Who will be the Prime Minister or Chief Minister, either our Parliamentary Board decides on this or the elected MLAs in the case of Chief Minister and MPs in the case of Prime Minister select their leader," Singh told reporters.

He, however, praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his good work in Gujarat during the past more than a decade which has seen the state's speedy progress and development.

The BJP chief said he would restructure the party soon after the National Council and National Executive meeting in mid-February and indicated that it could be held in Bhopal.

The party has kept the next meeting of the National Council and Executive in Bhopal, keeping in mind that BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh goes to polls later this year.

Asked if the party could stall Parliament during the forthcoming Budget session over Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's Hindu terror remarks, he said the BJP's strategy would be formulated ahead of the Session and the issue would be raised there.

Asked what role he foresees for the outgoing President Nitin Gadkari, Singh said "his role will certainly be there" and he would be a member of the BJP Parliamentary Board, the supreme decision-making body of the party.

Rajnath Singh said, "There is no prima facie case made out against Nitin Gadkari and the way baseless allegations were levelled against him, he got disturbed due to them and thus decided to resign till his name is cleared of all charges. The responsibility has now come on me."

About various problem confronting the party, the new BJP Chief said, "whatever little problems are there, will be sorted out soon through talks within".

On Karnataka, he said, the party will put its house in order but skirted questions about any possibility of a future tie-up with Yeddyurappa's party in the southern state.

It was under Singh's previous tenure as party president that BJP for the first time hoisted its flag in the South by setting up a government of its own. Karnataka goes to polls later this year.

On his role of leading the party in the run up to next general elections, he said, "it is not me alone who will do everything. I do not live in this illusion. I will work

together with the party and do everything to bring it to power in 2014 with the support and cooperation of all in the party."

He said the nation is looking at BJP with a lot of hope as the Congress-led UPA government has not lived up to the expectations of the people and failed on all fronts.

Lashing out at Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for his Hindu terror remarks, Singh charged the ruling Congress with indulging in vote bank politics by "deliberately" making such statements through Ministers.

Singh said the country's prestige has been affected due to the Home Minister's remarks and demanded answer from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Singh questioned the "silence" of PM and the Congress chief on the issue.

"India's prestige has suffered a dent at the international level. I am surprised that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi have not uttered a word on such an important issue which affects the image of the country.

"If the country's Prime Minister or President of the ruling party do not speak up on such issues, how will this nation run," the BJP chief said.

Singh said, "Could the Prime Minister not condemn this. Was he not supposed to speak something on this? Was Sonia Gandhi not supposed to speak? I want to question the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi that has India's image not been affected due to the Home Minister's comments."

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