New Delhi: Calling Narendra Modi a "chest- thumping, self-proclaimed hero", Union Minister Sachin Pilot today said it is not possible for the Gujarat leader to be like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Congress leader also said that the life motto of Modi and many other BJP leaders is to "compromise and do whatever it takes to get to the position of Prime Minister", but they must understand that "you cannot change colours overnight".
"People who plan, conspire, desire and run after the post of Prime Minister, they will never make it. It comes to you with your work, honesty and acceptance," Pilot said.
The 36-year-old Lok Sabha MP from Ajmer in Rajasthan, who holds the charge of Corporate Affairs Ministry, said that Modi is positioning himself as an "avatar" of the former Prime Minister, but "Modi is no Vajpayee".
The comments come amidst a political furore over Modi`s comments that he is a `Hindu nationalist` and he did "absolutely the right thing" during 2002 riots in the state.
The Gujarat chief minister has has been made BJP`s chief campaigner for next Lok Sabha elections and is widely being speculated as the party`s prime ministerial candidate.
"Modi is a chest-thumping, self-proclaimed hero in his own making. He needs projection, and his party and PR agencies are pumping in money to project him as face of the BJP and their poll campaign," Pilot told PTI in an interview here.
Taking on L K Advani as well, the minister said that the BJP strongman is now being projected as a "secular" face in the party, but people see through these gimmicks and they still remember his role in Ratha Yatra and Ram Mandir issues.
"Becoming Prime Minister is not the end of the world for any of the Congress leaders, but it is so for Advani, Modi and ten other people in BJP," he said.
Pilot said the talks about Modi contesting next Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi, Allahabad or Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, might be because of his "endeavour to become an avatar of Vajpayee".
"But people must understand that you cannot change colours overnight. I don`t think that is a possibility. People see through that," he said. Soon after becoming BJP`s poll panel chief in June, Modi called on ailing Vajpayee, who has represented Lucknow in Lok Sabha, among other constituencies.
"Many in BJP want to be face of the party or prime ministerial candidate and all of them are rushing to Jhandewalan or Nagpur to seek the blessings of RSS, which is dictating the policy in that party.
"Still, BJP is not clear whether it is a Hindutva party or right-wing Hindu nationalist party, or a progressive right of centre forward-looking party," he said.
"Whether it is development, governance or whether it is Ram Lalla or Ayodhya or Ram Mandir, that debate is still on in BJP," Pilot said.
"It will be more interesting to see whether the BJP is going to have a prime ministerial candidate and we have been hearing very very different voices. If you cannot keep your allies together, the party leadership together, how does one expect that the party can keep the country together," he said.
BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has seen many of its allies going out of the fold since going out of the power with the latest being Janta Dal (United). The NDA currently comprises of mainly BJP, Shiv Sena and Akali Dal.
"That shows that as opposed to a unifying force for the Opposition, Modi has become a divisive force at least for the NDA," Pilot said.
"This nation cannot have a leader or a party that does not have the capacity or the mindset to take everyone along. You cannot be an exclusivist thinking person and be able to govern a large nation as diverse as India," Pilot said.
"That`s why I am saying the change of colour that Advani tried to do by going to Pakistan and saying (Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali) Jinnah is secular.
"Now we are hearing things about Advani being more secular than Modi. These are all things that are futile exercises and these are not going to change the perception or rub the history off the individual," he said.
Asked about the criticism that Rahul Gandhi does not lead from the front and whether Congress would project him as its next prime ministerial candidate, Pilot said: "Rahul Gandhi does not need projection and secondly he is not in the government. He is the Vice President of the Congress party and he is leading from the front there.
"He is in the organisation and his idea is to develop and create a stronger Congress party in states where we have been beaten. It is a tough exercise. We have not been successful for many years and we have not lost heart.
"Rahul Gandhi is working in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and states which send so many MPs to Parliament, where Congress is not strong. The primary concern is how to revive the party in these places. That is his job."
"Being in the news by saying that I saved thousands of people in Uttarakhand and then denying it later is not the nature of Rahul Gandhi, but some people do it," Pilot said, in an apparent jibe at Modi.
The minister further said that Gandhi is not running for any position and he would have been in the government long ago, had he been interested.
Asked about the next prime ministerial candidate of Congress, Pilot said: "We have a Prime Minister today and when 2014 polls come, when UPA III is formed, at that time Congress party will analyse and take a decision as to who the Prime Minister will be.
"That always has been the trend in the Congress and we stand by that. We are not a one-man show or a one-person show.