Ahead of the much-debated decision on Narendra Modi, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely said an overwhelming public opinion wants the BJP to name its prime minister candidate well in advance.
This, he said, was important to relieve the country of its ills, as it has been “suffering hugely” due to a leadership crisis under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule.
Interacting with HT editors on Thursday, Jaitey said, "there is growing demand among cadres, supportive electors and people that we must name our prime minister candidate in advance...We all know who the leader is and who commands an overwhelming support among the people today. I see no reason why we should delay it.”
Giving enough hints that Modi was seen as the most effective leader, Jaitely said, “The elections will also be a leadership referendum as people are disillusioned with a leaderless situation.”
Asked about BJP patriarch LK Advani's opposition to Modi's anointment, Jaitely said no person commands so much respect within the BJP as much as Advani does and "we will always hold him in great esteem."
He said,“When the principal opposition party, which has a proven leadership, throws up a powerful personality, the elections can become quasi-presidential in nature....The writing on the wall is clear.... we are fully conscious of the people's mood.”
Speaking about the UPA, Jaitley said three factors can determine the outcome of the 2014 polls: “one is the huge anti-incumbency factor working against the Congress; second is the most likely pattern of strategic voting by sections of voters; and the third is the inability of the dynastic leadership of the Congress to meet the challenge.
Listing the lessons the country had learnt in the last 10 years, the BJP leader said, “India cannot afford to have a non-political person as prime minister. As the present situation has shown, a non-political person is interested in saving his job. Any person who is interested in saving his job cannot take decisions."
Asked about the BJP's plans for the revival of the economy, Jaitely said, "we will not only bring back the confidence of the period when the BJP-led NDA ruled between 1998 and 2004, but we will also give new directions to overcome the situation created by the UPA's lack of leadership and corruption."