“The party was strengthened by (AB) Vajpayee and Advani. Vajpayee has been unwell but the next government at the Centre will be formed under the leadership of Advani and nobody else,” Goel said at a function to mark the BJP’s 33rd foundation day.
Goel recently bagged the Delhi unit chief's post with the backing of Advani and Sushma Swaraj - both cold to the idea of Modi as PM candidate - BJP sources said. Significantly, party general secretary Ananth Kumar was seen applauding Goel's statement.
The Delhi leader, however, played down his remark later: "I am no one to declare the PM candidate... I said under Advani's marg darshan (guidance). There is collective leadership in the party and as Rajnathji has said, it will be decided by the parliamentary board."
Advani, in his address, remained critical of his party. "Today's BJP is different from my idea of the party. The things I get to hear these days don't match with my idea of the BJP. There should be no compromise on indiscipline and corruption. I am deliberately raking this up today because I believe this party can benefit the country a lot. But the country cannot be benefitted just by winning state elections," he said.
The 85-year-old, who was unsuccessfully projected as PM candidate in 2009, told party workers to take pride in the Ayodhya movement. "When people believe and talk of our Ayodhya issue and agitate over it, you should not be apologetic over it, ever."