Sunday, March 03, 2013

Rajnath hopes Shivraj and Raman will do a Modi; harps on Ram Setu and not on Ram temple

New Delhi: The uneasiness was palpable at the BJP national council meeting which began here on Saturday. The presence of BJP chief ministers – Gujarat's Narendra Modi, Madhya Pradesh's Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Chhattisgarh's Raman Singh – made it a delicate task for party president Rajnath Singh to praise Modi without appearing to ignore the other two successful chief ministers. Rajnath Singh singled out Modi as the only BJP chief minister who had performed a political hat-trick by winning a third successive time in the Gujarat assembly polls in December 2012. He asked the nearly 5000-member national council members to give a standing ovation to Modi, and compared him to cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar who broke all the game's records. He also garlanded Modi in a special gesture of appreciation. Then came the balancing act. He expressed the hope that Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Raman Singh will win a third time like Modi did in the elections due in their states in October/November this year. He also expressed the hope that Karnataka chief minister Jagdish Shettar too will lead the BJP to a win in the state's assembly election due in May though it is quite evident that BJP's political fortunes in the southern state are none too bright at the moment. He then expressed the hope that Vasundhara Raje will retrieve the party's fortunes in Rajasthan and though there is no chief ministerial face as yet for Delhi, he said that BJP should win in Delhi too. There was a tricky moment when the audience cried “Modi for PM” when Rajnath Singh said that it will be a BJP prime minister who will hoist the national tricolour at Red Fort in August 2014. He had to reiterate that it will be a BJP prime minister who will be chosen by the party. It was obvious that Rajnath Singh would not have been able to announce Modi's name for the prime minister's office on Saturday and at the national council. Rajnath Singh praised outgoing president Nitin Gadkari and said that Gadkari was going into his second term as president when he (Gadkari) refused to take office because of the cases brought against him. Rajnath Singh said that he had to come in at the last moment. Rajnath had to do his bit of ideological juggling as well. While harping on Hindutva, the importance of the national council meeting taking place at the time of the auspicious Hindu festival of Mahakumbh at Prayag/Allahabad and the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, he quoted Mahatma Gandhi saying politics should go with spiritualism. Interestingly, the BJP president focused on Ram Setu issue and said if BJP-led NDA came to power, efforts will be made to declare Ram Setu a world heritage site as a symbol of India's spiritual heritage. He did not speak of Ram temple at Ayodhya.

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