Gadkari bats for Modi as PM candidate, party chief

BJP president Nitin Gadkari favoured Gujarat CM Narendra Modi for prime ministerial candidate and promised to back his candidature as party chief.

Last Updated: Jan 22, 2012, 19:42 PM IST

New Delhi: Ruling out himself as his party`s
prime ministerial candidate, BJP president Nitin Gadkari
on Sunday favoured Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the
top job and promised to back his candidature as party chief.

"I will never be a candidate for PM nor will I topple
anybody. Modi has good potential to be BJP president and PM,"
Gadkari told a TV channel.

Gadkari, whose term as BJP president comes to an end in
December, said he is not interested in extension of his
tenure. "I am ready to work as an ordinary party worker. I
will support Narendra Modi to take over the mantle."
Dodging questions on who will be party`s likely choice
for the PM`s post, Gadkari said, "BJP is not a proprietary
party and we will decide PM`s candidate at the appropriate
time."

Asked whether BJP should now launch Narendra Modi on the
national stage, Gadkari said, Narendra Modi has very good
potential to be both BJP President and PM.

The BJP chief stoutly defended fielding Uma Bharti in
UP`s electoral battlefield and discounted dissensions within
the party`s state leadership over the import of the firebrand
leader into the state.
"Uma Bharti is a national and respectable party leader
and has been at the forefront of many projects in the state
including the Ram Janambhhopmi movement. If Sonia Gandhi from
Italy can contest polls in Amethi, what`s the problem with
Uma?," he asked.

Gadkari said he had declared at the very beginning that
Bharti will lead the BJP`s campaign in UP and claimed that she
was fielded only after consulting leaders of the state.

When pointed out that Rajnath Singh had expressed
reservations against Bharti on this channel about making an
`outsider` CM if the party came to power in the state, Gadkari
said, "No one feels threatened by Uma."

Putting virtually on notice partymen for off-record
briefing to the media, Gadkari asked for the names of such
leaders. "Give me the names of leaders not happy with her
(Uma`s) induction into the state," he thundered.

He also strongly defended tainted and sacked UP Minister
Babu Singh Kushwaha`s induction into the party saying there
was no FIR against the former BSP leader. The decision had not
gone down well with senior party leaders like L K Advani,
Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.

But Gadkari said none of these leaders had officially
protested against the decision. "The leaders should talk to me
rather than the media if they have any disagreement."

"I own the decision to induct Kushwaha into the party,"
Gadkari said revealing that the decision was taken after
consulting national and state party leaders. But he said the
issue is closed for now as Kushwaha himself had asked to
keep his membership on hold.

Gadkari ruled out any truck with BSP or SP in case the
UP elections threw up a hung assembly. "My strength in
politics is credibility. We don`t want to have any direct or
indirect alliance with BSP or SP."

The BJP president said his greatest challenge is to get
over 200 seats for the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

PTI