BJP general secretary Amit Shah, tasked with UP affairs under his watch, ducked repeated attempts to quiz him on whether his boss and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi would contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls from Uttar Pradesh.
However, he hinted that his party was mulling return to its Hindutva ways with Modi as national campaign chief.
Though BJP sources indicated that the party was hoping to gain from an expected Modi-induced polarisation, yet Shah chose to target the UP's ruling party for its alleged Muslim appeasement and indicated that the BJP would give voice to popular anger against the "release of terror suspects and the increase in cattle smuggling" in the state.
Ironically, by doing so, he ended up almost conceding the saffron game plan of playing the communal card to defeat the caste arithmetic of ruling Samajwadi Party and the main opposition Bahujan Samaj Party.
Shah's two day stint marked with some straight talk - which reportedly put off some BJP veterans - also caught the attention for the manner in which Modi's man chose to skip any mention of BJP veterans of the Jan Sangh days - former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and party patriarch LK Advani during his two day BJP-assessment visit to UP's capital.
He was quite categorical though that Modi's projection would help the BJP and that his boss would play a key role in the saffron scheme of things, not just in UP but nationally.
"Parivartan ka rath (the chariot of change) would reach Delhi through Lucknow. UP's role in BJP's national scheme of things is going to be most important," Shah said.
Quizzed on the Advani controversy that led to the patriarch's resignation and the subsequent RSS brokered truce; Shah came up with a cryptic "closed chapter" response.
He drew a deep breath before dismissing a query that sought his views on if Advani's take on Modi could still be considered by the BJP given the fact that the party is under pressure from allies on the issue. "Aagey" (next), said Shah, making it obvious that he wasn't enjoying queries on Advani, who had questioned Modi's projection.
Interestingly, Shah's first interaction with the media began with a labored explanation on his alleged involvement in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case over which he is out on bail.
Taking the query on how a leader involved in a controversy was made the UP in-charge of the BJP, Shah chose to target the Congress for misusing the CBI. "My bail was confirmed by Justice Aftab Alam. I repeat Justice Aftab Alam. My conscience is clear and my party is backing me. It's a clear case of CBI misuse, something which Congress is so used to," he said.
He again blamed the CBI for the manner in which party bosses were named in Gujarat leader Haren Pandya's murder.