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Rajnath re-elected BJP president

Vajpayee, Advani heap praise while RSS smiles, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2006 23:07 IST

Rajnath Singh was on Sunday elected BJP president for a full term of three years - ten months after he had taken charge from LK Advani who was asked to quit by the RSS following his controversial remarks on Pakistan's founder Jinnah.

There was no surprise in his formal re-election since former PM AB Vajpayee and the RSS had long agreed that Rajnath should run the organisation for sometime to rid it of all ills since the BJP tasted power in 1998.

Fifty-five year old Rajnath filed his nomination with returning officer OP Kohli at the party headquarters in New Delhi. Vajpayee and Advani proposed Rajnath's name. Kohli got 15 other nominations all in support of Rajnath who was declared elected unopposed amid drumbeats and fireworks.

Rajnath's election will be ratified by the BJP's national council, which is likely to meet in Lucknow next month.

Vajpayee said, "Rajnath's first innings got over successfully. His second innings will be more glorious. The party's future is bright in his hands. We pledge full support to him."

Advani said he believed the BJP would be successful in the upcoming assembly elections in UP under Rajnath's leadership.

Rajnath silenced his critics within the party in his comments after his re-election. He said he would "steadfastly stick" to his style of functioning, which may see more RSS men in key posts to run the party.

"Some may find our style of functioning to be awkward. But there is a set pattern in which the party has to work. I cannot give it up," he said in reply to a question on differences within the organisation.

Asked whom the BJP would project as its prime ministerial candidate in 2009, Rajnath said, "Lok Sabha elections are far away. Both Vajpayee and Advani are there. They are our leaders."

Rajnath said the BJP was rapidly regaining public trust. He referred to the BJP's success in bagging eight of the 12 mayoral posts in recent civic elections in UP and winning the Lok Sabha by-elections in MP and Bihar.

Rajnath vowed to work towards bring the party back in power in his home state, UP.

First Published: Nov 26, 2006 15:44 IST