Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, projected as a likely contender to Narendra Modi for BJP's prime ministerial candidate, on Sunday appeared to rule himself out of the race saying he was concentrating completely on the state.
"A lot of things need to be done and therefore, I am concentrating completely on Madhya Pradesh, which has become my family," Chouhan said when asked about his name coming up as a possible prime ministerial candidate within party circles.
The chief minister also accused the opposition of hitting him below the belt by making baseless allegations as he launched an unusually strong attack on the Congress saying that corruption has now become its nature.
"The history of Congress is that of corruption, one after another, a series of scams. Many a times I feel ashamed that this kind of government is ruling the country. But it appears that they are not bothered about all these things as it (corruption) has become a part of their nature," Chouhan told PTI during his Jan Ashirwad Yatra in the run up to the assembly polls slated later this year.
Asked about his party's stand on Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra's alleged involvement in illegal land deals in Haryana, he said, "Normally, I don't use such terms but it appears that Congress and its leaders have no shame for it."
Justifying his counter-attacks on the Congress, Chouhan said, "Though it is not my nature, but when Opposition has started hitting me below the belt, I have no option except to hit back as everyone has a limit of tolerance for this kind of thing."
Leader of Opposition in MP assembly, Ajay Singh had leveled allegations of corruption against Chouhan and his family members following which the chief minister had filed a defamation suit against Singh in a Bhopal court.
"The Congress leaders point out fingers at others without realising their own deeds," he said.
Chouhan expressed confidence that his party would win more number of seats than 2008 or may even cross the 2003 performance.
"I am not concerned with what recent survey reports have said, but going by the people's response to my yatra and amount of developmental works the government has done for them, they (people) feel that BJP deserves a third term in the state," Chouhan said.
On reports of Congress mulling over projecting Union minister of state for power (independent charge), Jyotiraditya Scindia as the poll campaign committee chairman, Chouhan said, "There is no challenge from anyone in the Congress to the BJP. We don't talk in a language of arrogance. We are doing our job and I am confident, we will succeed and that too in a very good manner."
In a veiled reference to Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and Scindia, the senior BJP leader said, "The rajas and mahrajas are unable to digest how a common man has become a chief minister of the state which they considered as their birth right."
"Therefore, in order to remove me from the post, they are leveling all kinds of allegations to defame me," he added.
He alleged that during Digvijay Singh's tenure as chief minister, the state reached the brink of "destruction".
On the anti-incumbency prevailing in the state because of the reported under-performance of some BJP ministers and MLAs, Chouhan said, "When you are unable to do the work of the people, they are bound to get angry with the party and its members. But as far as the party is concerned, it will take into account all the factors before selecting any candidate for the polls."