Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that L K Advani, and not he, was the right man as the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party - and the veteran BJP leader praised Modi for making Gujarat "vibrant".
"I am not in any race. Just the way Gujarat has progressed, India will develop under the able leadership of L.K. Advani," Modi said.
The right candidate for the prime minister's post, Modi said, is Advani. In the upcoming parliamentary elections, the BJP would come to power and Advani would lead the country to progress, he said at a conference at central Gujarat's Halol town, about 160 km from Ahmedabad, where he laid the foundation stone for the widening of a highway.
Modi said he was successful in inviting investment worth Rs.12 trillion, during this week's Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors' Summit, for the prosperity of his state that has the potential of generating 2.5 million jobs.
"Some vested interests are spreading the canard that Modi wants to become the next prime minister of India. I am only a chief minister and I am content with that," Modi said, laying to rest speculation that he was a contender for the country's top job.
Top industrialists Anil Ambani and Sunil Bharati Mittal had on Wednesday said that Modi, who courted controversy when over 1,000 people were killed in communal violence in the state in 2002, had the makings of a "future leader of India".
Advani, meanwhile, was all praise for Modi, once seen as his protege, for "making Gujarat 'vibrant' and blamed the controversy on "some sections of media".
"It is amusing to find these days some sections of the media hostile to the BJP labouring hard to discern even in the Vibrant Gujarat event evidence of differences in the BJP. I can only recall what I had said at a New Delhi press conference I had addressed shortly after our splendid victory in the Gujarat assembly polls.
"A lady correspondent had posed me the question. 'Don't you think Narendra Bhai is now becoming larger than the party?' My reply to her query was: 'It often happens in a family that a younger member records an achievement which no one else has made earlier. This only makes the whole family proud. The family never feels diminished on that account'," Advani wrote in his blog.
He added: "What accounts for Narendrabhai's success? The answer is simple: he exemplifies the BJP's commitment to Good Governance, Development and Security."
However, Gujarat's main opposition Congress party was not convinced. Its Gujarat unit president Siddharth Patel said the state was legging behind in education and other sectors and few proposals received at the earlier editions of Vibrant Gujarat had materialised with actual investments.