New Delhi: Amid the raging debate over BJP`s Prime Ministerial candidate, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today hailed L K Advani as party`s "tallest leader".
At the same time, Chouhan made it clear that the issue of Advani being the Prime Ministerial candidate will be decided by the party`s Parliamentary Board and "I am not voting for anybody".
His comments came a day after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the top leader of BJP ally JD(U), objected to the projection of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as NDA`s Prime Ministerial candidate and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha favouring Advani for the top post.
"BJP is blessed to have so many seasoned leaders like Advaniji and Atalji...These two leaders are responsible for nurturing the party...
"It`s a blessing for our party that there are so many talented leaders with us but no doubt Advani is the tallest leader. Everybody in this country knows this fact," Chouhan told an English news channel.
He said the party also has a second-line leadership of Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Murli Manohar Joshi and Modi.
However, when queried on Advani as BJP`s Prime Ministerial candidate, he said the Parliamentary board will decide on it.
"My vote will be with someone who the party decides as the Prime Ministerial candidate. I don`t have a personal opinion on this. If needed, I will express my opinion before the Parliamentary board when asked," Chouhan, who was pipped by Modi for a seat on the BJP Parliamentary Board, said.
Ruling himself out of the race, he said different leaders taking different names will hurt party and weaken its position.
"When I`m part of the party I`ve no right to say anything in the media. We should speak, whatever we want, before the right forum," he said.
Chouhan said the debate over Prime ministerial candidate was "baseless" and whenever required the Parliamentary board will discuss and decide on it.
"I don`t believe in whatever is being discussed outside. We are party workers and we should be within the boundaries of discipline," he said.
He said BJP workers know that few people want to keep this debate open unnecessarily but they are interested in it.
"There is a basic difference between BJP and Congress. Congress has been reduced to a party of dynasty, but within BJP simple individuals like me have grown up from ground level. The internal democracy is our strength.
"Nobody is pitched against anybody within the party. I discuss everything before right forum in the party. But there is no scope for a different view in Congress," he said.
He said his only desire is to make Madhya Pradesh the most developed state of the country.
"I`ve a lot to do in Madhya Pradesh. Then only I would think of anything," Chouhan said when asked whether he was aspiring to be a Prime Ministerial candidate.
On whether Modi was promoting himself, he said everybody has a right to express his views and Modi is "not blowing his own trumpet".
"When I`m doing something good, I`ve a right to talk about it. It`s for other states to accept it, if they feel it beneficial. Modi has always made it clear that he is not in the Prime Ministerial race. But he has a right to express his views in public," Chouhan said.
He said he would like to compete with Modi only on the aspect of development as he cannot allow Madhya Pradesh to remain backward and there should be a healthy competition among states on development.
On Nitish Kumar`s comments on inclusive development, he said every state has its own circumstances and needs.
"Gujarat is a developed state since last many years. There is no doubt that Modi has taken it to a different level.
"Bihar has its own necessities and accordingly Nitish Kumar developed his model. The states have different needs and according to those needs the development model should be designed," he added.