With senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani's comments on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi sparking a controversy, party president Rajnath Singh on Monday claimed that there has been a misinterpretation.
"I think Mr Advani's statement was misinterpreted," Rajnath Singh told reporters in Hyderabad, when asked about the comparison the senior BJP leader made between Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Narendra Modi.
Rajnath Singh also denied reports of a "cold war" in the BJP over the choice of prime ministerial candidate. "There is no cold war in BJP. Whatever decision I have to take, I will take after calling a meeting of the central parliamentary board," he said.
The BJP chief said he would like to reiterate that Modi is the most popular leader in the country. "I have said already that if there is a popular leader in the country, it is Narendra Modi," he said.
He did not agree that Advani pitted Chauhan against the Gujarat chief minister as a prime ministerial candidate, and said that was a wrong interpretation of the senior leader's statement.
Singh claimed that all BJP-ruled states had developed in their respective socio-economic conditions.
Comparing Chauhan's development model with that of Modi, Advani said in Gwalior on Saturday that the Madhya Pradesh chief minister deserved more credit.
He argued that Chauhan, the chief minister of a 'BIMARU state, had brought about considerable progress during his tenure, while Modi only improved an already economically well-off Gujarat.
'BIMARU' has been an acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh - the four north Indian states which in terms of economic development have been viewed as laggards.
Advani was reported to have said that while Modi's Gujarat was already developed, Chauhan's Madhya Pradesh was backward when they assumed their charges as the chief ministers, and went on to compare Chauhan to former prime minister AB Vajpayee.
His statement triggered a debate in the BJP, and was seen as an attempt to scuttle Modi's chances of becoming the Prime Minister.