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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Modi 'a state leader' for Congress; RSS drops hints of backing him

PTI  New Delhi, February 08, 2013
First Published: 09:18 IST(8/2/2013) | Last Updated: 15:01 IST(8/2/2013)

Despite a section of the BJP seeing him as the PM candidate, the Congress has sought to project Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as a state leader and dismissed suggestion that he had hijacked Rahul Gandhi's agenda of connecting with youth.

It also steered clear of questions whether the next Lok Sabha polls will be a Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi tussle.

"Whom to project as the PM candidate is the internal matter of the BJP and since Modi is Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat PCC will appropriately respond to whatever he has said," was the response of party spokesman Rashid Alvi to reporters on Thursday.

He said that the Congress would like to see Rahul, who is its leader, to become the next Prime Minister.

But, Alvi insisted that the party does not name its PM candidate before elections and the leader is chosen by the high command along with the newly elected members of Parliament.

The Congress spokesman dismissed suggestions that Modi through his speech in New Delhi on Wednesday had hijacked Rahul Gandhi's agenda of connecting with youth.

However, in an oblique hint RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday appeared to back Narendra Modi as BJP's prime ministerial candidate but said the party will be responsible for the consequences of its decision.

Speaking at the VHP 'dharma sansad', a gathering of religious leaders, he referred to the clamour for Modi as PM candidate at the meet and also elsewhere.

Without referring to the Gujarat chief minister by name, Bhagwat said, "People know what is in your heart. The whole country is echoing with the same voice.

"And that is why we should not interfere in what should be done. They (BJP) will have to take a decision on what is to be done..... Whatever we may say, those who should do it, it is their right. We should allow them to do it. If what they do comes out wrong, then we should let them eat the fruits as well."

Bhagwat was speaking after some sants spoke out in favour of BJP announcing Modi as its prime ministerial candidate in the last elections.

At the same time, BJP chief Rajnath Singh, in Chennai, parried questions on the issue, maintaining that the BJP Parliamentary Board will decide the issue at an appropriate time.

Earlier, when asked by reporters what he thought of Modi, Bhagwat said, "He is my friend".

A section of BJP leaders have demanded that Modi be declared as the party's Prime Ministerial candidate. VHP leader Giriraj Kishore also joined the Modi-for PM chorus saying like Gujarat the whole country can benefit from his leadership as there has been tremendous development in the state under his rule.

The meeting on Thursday saw some people in the audience raising slogans in support of Modi as religious leaders gave their speeches. Bhagwat and VHP leaders Ashok Singhal and Parveen Togadia tried to pacify them with the RSS chief saying that the Sangh Parivar was "well aware of the people's wishes".

Togadia and Singhal requested that the 'dharma sansad' be allowed to remain focused on its agenda.

Raising the Ayodhya issue in his address, Bhagwat said that the RSS was fully committed to construction of Ram Temple at Ramjanmbhoomi.

"It is the obligation of Parliament to remove hurdles in the way of construction of Ram temple. Either Parliament should honour the wishes of the people or the people should elect a Parliament that is sensitive to the issue," the RSS chief said.

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