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Rajnath kills Advani's poster boy hopes

LK Advani's hopes of being projected as the BJP's PM candidate in the 2009 polls were nearly dashed by new BJP chief Rajnath Singh.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 19:18 IST

L.K. Advani's hopes of being projected as the BJP's PM candidate in the 2009 polls were nearly dashed by new BJP chief Rajnath Singh on Thursday.

Though Rajnath ruled out Advani's removal as leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, he said general elections were "too far" to project anyone as the party's prime ministerial candidate.

Rajnath was responding to media queries on Advani's projection as PM after he denied any move to remove him and Jaswant Singh as opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

Rajnath, who is on a course correction of the BJP under the RSS directive following the Jinnah controversy which cost Advani his job, said: "2009 is far off and we will decide when the elections are round the corner."

Advani, who stepped down on December 31 as BJP president, indicated that he was not taking sanyas and was in the running to be projected as PM candidate.

In fact, Advani said he expected to be the party's "face" for the elections in 2009 the day he resigned as party chief. Later, in a TV interview, he said the convention was that the leader of opposition was "shadow" PM. BJP leaders close to the Sangh had even fuelled doubts over Advani continuing as opposition leader, though several leaders including Rajnath had turned down such demands during the Mumbai conclave last December.

With Jaswant Singh's pilgrimage to Pakistan, particularly his proposed visit to Jinnah's mausoleum in Karachi, his name too had come under the RSS scanner. Supporters of M.M. Joshi had been arguing that Jaswant, being a fellow Rajput like Rajnath, should make way for Joshi.

But notwithstanding his refusal to back Advani's candidature as PM, Rajnath charged PM Manmohan Singh with targeting Advani "to justify his own weakness."

Pointing to a media expose that the PMO wrote nine letters to UPA ministers in the last 14 months asking them not to bypass the PM, Rajnath said: "We pity him. It is not an exaggeration to say he is the weakest Prime Minister."

First Published: Feb 04, 2006 19:18 IST