Vasundhara Raje indicates preference for Narendra Modi as PM candidate

Senior BJP leader Vasundhara Raje on Friday appeared to favour Narendra Modi as the party`s Prime Ministerial candidate claiming that he was popular not just in Gujarat but across the country.

Updated: Apr 19, 2013, 21:54 PM IST

New Delhi: Senior BJP leader Vasundhara Raje on Friday appeared to favour Narendra Modi as the party`s Prime Ministerial candidate claiming that he was popular not just in Gujarat but across the country.

"There`s something that Narendra Modi is doing right, that people are appreciating. Narendra Modi knows the pulse of his people, therefore there is great synergy at play," said Raje while speaking at a summit.

Asked why Modi was preferred by the party and not a woman including herself for the top job, she said Modi had 15 years of Chief Ministership behind him while she had only five.

Raje said that during her yatra in Rajasthan people start celebrating whenever Modi`s name crops up in the course of her speech. He is doing something right that people appreciated him all over, she added.

The former Rajasthan Chief Minister said she would be inviting Modi to campaign for her in the state, saying he was very popular among the masses. "Why not?" She said when asked if she would ask the Gujarat Chief Minister to campaign for her in Rajasthan.

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said "do you think a man is really running this country"?

Her remarks came when asked if a woman will become the country`s Prime Minister again.

Daughter of late BJP leader Vijayraje Scindia, Vasundhara Raje said it was "unfortunate" that dynastic politics existed in the country but added one benefitted from the surname that one carried due to one`s family or dynasty.

Acknowledging that gender bias exists in society, she said women have to work twice as hard as men to prove themselves in every sphere of life.

"Little by little, they are claiming their space and I don`t think many people are liking it," she said, adding, "there is basically gender bias. It`s a lot of gender bias and ends in performance. As a woman, you really have to work double the amount to make yourself known and prove yourself."

"In my time, it (using surname) certainly made it easier. If they have a surname, at least they get an opportunity to be heard," Raje said.

On dynastic politics, she said "I`m afraid it exists. At the end of the day, I have to win elections. It`s unfortunate but that`s the way it is."

She said it is hard for women to hold ground in politics without a mentor and cited the example of herself who was mentored by her mother, besides Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.

"Women have not succeeded in politics without a mentor. They won`t (be successful) unless they have a mentor. It is unfortunate but true," she said.

Raje said politics isn`t only about calculation, it is also about having affection and heart.
"Politics need not be done as a calculation. It requires a lot of heart. The key is to mix calculation with affection."

The former Chief Minister said time has come to initiate professional interest in politics and suggested the system of recruiting interns.

Raje said women have started claiming their space that was not given to them earlier and asked men to cede that space to them.

"It`s just about ceding space. Women are going out more,
men have to learn to cede space whether in politics or corporate. Now, women have started to claim their space in Rajasthan," she said, adding "in 2003, women voters in Rajasthan were only 30 to 40 per cent but today the figure has gone up to more than 70 per cent."

She also took a dig at Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, saying, he spends 3/4th of his rally speeches talking about me. "I would never waste so much time on him," she said, adding Gehlot should rather spend time talking about development.

She also brushed aside criticism that she lived abroad more than in India when out of power. "I travel in Rajasthan as much as I travel abroad. I lived in London and travelled the world much before people talked about it!," she said.

Asked how she reacts when people criticise her, she said "when I get into a situation, I just take off my glasses. If I can`t see them, I can`t hear them. It`s easier."