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Rajnath mellows down, says US visit not for Modi visa

world Updated: Jul 25, 2013 01:58 IST
Yashwant Raj

BJP president Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday that he was neither in the US to hardsell Narendra Modi nor to seek a visa for him.

That’s for the party’s Central Parliamentary Board to decide, he added, only stating that Modi was "very popular".

Singh also refused to name other contenders for that job.

Singh’s four-day kicked off on Sunday with a news conference in New York, where he said he would be raising the issue of a US visa for Modi.

Rajnath Singh's comments at the New York news conference - about Modi’s national stature - had reportedly angered some party seniors such as L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj.

The party president had spoken effusively about Modi, which was taken to mean that he was indicating the chief minister would be the party’s candidate for the top job.

“This is an issue for the US administration, not for us,” Singh said on the issue of visa for Modi, carefully picking his words at the Wednesday news conference.

He was very clear on Sunday. “I will appeal to the US government to clear the US visa to the Gujarat chief minister,” he had said, adding he would be raising it in his discussions.

But he was not going to abandon the issue completely.

He said it was a “paradox” that the Congressional Research Service praises Modi’s performance - in a 2011 report - on the one hand, and denies him a visa on the other.

The Congressional Research Service is, as the name suggests, a research wing of US congress, but not part of the government.

The state department denied Modi a visa for foreign officials in March 2005 and revoked the tourist/business visa issued to him earlier, over failure to stop the 2002 riots in Gujarat.