BJP still not ready to name Modi as PM candidate

New York, July 21 (IANS) India's Bharatiya Janata Party is banking on the failures of the Congress-led UPA government to return to power, but is not yet ready to pronounce the controversial Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.

"We are confident that the failure of the Congress government will help BJP return to power at the centre" after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, party president Rajnath Singh told a press conference here Saturday at the start of a five-day US trip.

"Any political party that aspires to come to power should give good governance and satisfy the needs of the people. If they fail in this front, they will be out of power," he said.

Asked why he himself was not being projected as the party's prime ministerial candidate, Rajnath Singh said: "It's not necessary that party president should also be a crowd puller and a prime ministerial candidate."

"I have an assignment to do for my party. I have a job to deliver - that is victory of the party in the 2014 elections," he said as he praised Modi as a "crowd puller" with national appeal, but stopped short of naming him as the man for the top job.

"He is a crowd puller not only in Gujarat but also in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, from North to South, East to West. He is one single leader with a national appeal. His popularity will help the party in the elections," he said.

"I have named him as campaign head in view of his image, popularity and commitment to the party," Rajnath Singh said, asking: "What is unusual in that? We have nominated Modi like other parties do... why read between lines?"

"I am more interested in getting the BJP back into power in centre and packing off the corruption-ridden bad governance of the Congress in my tenure as president of the party," he said.

The BJP president also said that he would take up with US lawmakers in Washington this week the issue of denial of US visa to Modi in view of his alleged role in the 2002 Godhra riots.

"I will appeal to the US government to clear the US visa for the Gujarat chief minister," he said.

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