Less than four days after the BJP leaders sought to bury the row sparked by senior leader LK Advani’s remarks about his chances of being the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate, party chief Rajnath Singh has opened the debate all over again.
Singh told a private television channel that AB Vajpayee and Advani are “the only prime ministerial candidates of the BJP”. He also said he does not aspire to be a prime ministerial candidate if the BJP comes back to power in 2009. “In the BJP, there are only two leaders, Vajpayeeji and Lal Krishna Advani, who may be the prime ministerial candidate in future... there is no question of me being a candidate,” Singh said.
On being told that Vajpayee had said he did not want to be prime minister, Singh merely said, “We will see when the time comes.”
Advani recently said in a television interview that he was the BJP’s lone prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha election. Singh had termed the remarks malicious. Interestingly, Advani was also quoted in the same interview saying Singh’s chances of being projected as prime minister depended on the party.
Now, by naming both Vajpayee and Advani as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidates, Singh has elevated the status of Advani to that of Vajpayee, who has always been the party’s sole PM candidate, BJP leaders said.
A party leader said Singh, by striking a balance between Vajpayee and Advani, sought to keep his name out of the race to avoid attrition among the second-line leaders, among who he is the first among equals. “Rajnath Singh’s first test is Uttar Pradesh, which will elect a new House next year. He is not a fool to project himself as a prime ministerial candidate before he can redeem the state for the BJP and RSS,” said a party functionary.