As LK Advani continues to sulk over Narendra Modi's anointment as BJP's prime ministerial candidate, party president Rajnath Singh on Saturday said the patriarch had the right to be angry but that did not reflect divisions in the party on the issue.
He also rejected suggestions that the decision to elevate the Gujarat chief minister, considered a divisive and polarising figure, was
taken under pressure from the RSS.
"Advani continues to be our leader, guardian and mentor. He has every right to be angry. I take cognizance of it and would try to address it. Where is the question of his isolation?" Singh told reporters here, a day after the decision to appoint Modi to spearhead BJP's challenge in the 2014 general elections sent Advani into a sulk.
"It is not within my capacity to reply back to him (Advani). If a guardian scolds somebody in the family, it does not mean there are differences within the family. Advani never said Modi should not be nominated BJP's prime ministerial candidate," he said.
With NDA having lost several of its allies, JD(U) being the latest, the BJP chief said he would look for new partners but made it clear that existing ones would be taken into confidence before sewing up new alliances.
"Our existing allies, including Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal, supported the decision on Modi. There is the possibility of new pre and post-poll alliances. But before we take a decision on that, our present allies will be taken into confidence," Singh said.
He was asked whether Raj Thackeray's MNS would be persuaded to join NDA. Raj Thackeray is considered close to Modi but his estrangement with cousin Uddhav, who heads Shiv Sena, continues. Any decision to bring MNS into NDA fold may not go down well with Shiv Sena.
Asked if Modi would continue as Gujarat chief minister or contest Lok Sabha polls while spearheading BJP's election campaign, he said,"I don't think there is any bar under the Constitution (prohibiting a chief minister from contesting LS poll). But we have not given it a thought so far. This will be decided after consultations."
When asked what exactly had disappointed Advani about his style of functioning, Rajnath said,"I am not aware of it".
The BJP president trashed suggestions that RSS had exerted pressure on the party leadership to declare Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.
"In my long association with RSS, I have never seen it exert any pressure or issue any directive to BJP. I don't know where this notion stems from," he said.
Describing Modi as the "most popular politician in the country today", he said there was never any confusion over the party declaring him its prime ministerial challenger.
"Now that we have formally declared him as our prime ministerial candidate, the country wants to know who is the prime ministerial nominee of the Congress," he said, adding the Congress-led government at the Centre had failed "on all fronts".
Earlier in the day, the BJP chief exuded confidence that along with allies the party would be able to form the next government at the Centre.
"We hope to get 272 plus seats in the 2014 elections. Give us 272 plus seats and we will form a government whose economic policies will restore India's pride globally," he said addressing a gathering after inaugurating the new building of Bombay Bullion Association at Zaveri Bazaar.
The BJP chief said all allies of his party who would contest the general elections together would participate in the next government if the alliance came to power.