Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has become a mass leader with a "huge" support base and there is no comparison between his Gujarat counterpart and rival Rahul Gandhi.
Chouhan also claimed that the "negative atmosphere" built in the country due to the policies of Congress and policies and ideology of BJP and Modi being declared the PM candidate will ensure the party-led NDA's march to power.
"There is no comparison," 59-year-old Chauhan told PTI when asked how he looks at Modi and the Congress vice president around whom the discourse of the next general election is increasingly getting focussed.
"Narendra Modi has become a mass leader with a huge support base. This is a fact. But nobody knows in what direction Rahul Gandhi is going. I am disappointed. I used to think that since he is young, Gandhi will perhaps give some direction to his party," said the two-time chief minister of MP which goes to polls on covember 25.
"It's a thing of the past", quipped Chouhan when reminded that BJP veteran L K Advani had at one point made clear his preference for him over Modi in BJP's prime ministerial stakes.
Chouhan, who is perceived to be a moderate leader within BJP, sought to allay any misgivings among minorities about his party saying there is 'Sarvdharma Sambhav' (equal treatment to all religious groups) in MP.
To a question whether Modi's campaigning in MP will help him or whether he was also a bit apprehensive about winning the state on his own, Chouhan said "both Modiji and Advaniji will have impact. It's not only Narendrabhai but the entire leadership of BJP is coming here.
Asked whether there is a difference between governance models of MP and Gujarat, he said, "due to local factors, there are different ways... But there is no difference in the model. A number of steps were taken recently for minorities in Gujarat also."
He also dismissed contentions of a united Congress in MP led by young union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia posing any challenge to BJP.