The Telegraph
Saturday , January 18 , 2014
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Rajnath fires ‘faceless’ Cong barb

New Delhi, Jan. 17: The BJP gave a wide berth to Rahul Gandhi’s speech at the AICC plenary and laboured on the Congress’s “failure” to put up a Prime Minister candidate against its contender, Narendra Modi.

The BJP national executive that met here today took note of the “faceless” Congress. Party president Rajnath Singh was quoted by sources as telling the members that not projecting Rahul as its Prime Minister face “indicated that they (the Congress) have accepted Modi will be the PM.”

Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Arun Jaitley said: “I think it a recognition of the reality that since they know they are not going to form the government, why the need to announce a PM candidate? The Congress is nervous, so why risk puncturing its only card in an adverse political environment?”

The national council, which begins its two-day sitting from tomorrow on the Ramlila grounds, is expected to reinforce the primacy of Modi in the BJP’s blueprint for the 2014 elections.

A political resolution that was discussed by the executive today before being put up before the council will mention how Modi’s rally in Patna was “targeted” by the “terrorists” in the passage on internal security. Sources said it would speak about the NGOs who were allegedly trying to defame the Prime Minister candidate.

Modi’s prime-ministerial ambition fetched a big endorsement on the eve of the council from the European Union. The EU — that lifted its unofficial embargo in February 2013 after Modi’s third election victory in Gujarat — described him as a “person of great prominence” on India’s political landscape and said it respected the judicial verdict that gave Modi a clean chit for his alleged involvement in the 2002 riots.

The EU ambassador to India, Joao Cravinho, told PTI today: “We are interested in knowing his views, seeing what plans he has if he comes to power. We have no issue whatsoever with the competence and capacity of the Indian judicial system.”

Cravinho added that the EU respected the democratic legitimacy of whoever was elected and instated as the Prime Minister. “So we will work with him as we will work with anybody else,” he stressed.

Last year, shortly after the EU declared Modi was not persona non grata, the envoys of the member-countries hosted a lunch for him in Delhi. Some of them later went to Gandhinagar to open channels of transacting business with Gujarat.

Congressman Mani Shankar Aiyar’s invitation to Modi to set up a tea stall outside the AICC office instead of nursing prime-ministerial dreams provoked a Twitter counter from Jaitley. Although Aiyar maintained he was “misquoted”, Jaitley tweeted: “Strength of democracy will be proved when a former tea vendor defeats a dynasty representative. Let this be the battle of 2014.”

Rajnath, in his address at the executive, repeated his warning about the Congress “spreading a web of deceit” before the electorate to deny the BJP a majority in the Lok Sabha elections.

In a media briefing, spokesperson Prakash Javadekar quoted Rajnath as saying that the Congress did not want a “mazboot” (stable) government but a “majboor” (at the mercy of others) government. Some foreign elements too wish to see a weak India.”

In another briefing, spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the BJP’s view was that the Aam Aadmi Party was “another ally” of the Congress like the Samajwadi Party and the BSP. “We have to combat the Congress plus all these parties to succeed in our Mission 272-plus,” said Hussain.

The BJP was toying with the idea of peddling a slogan, improvised on the Congress’s catch-line: “Congress ka haath Aap ke saath” (Congress’s hand is with the AAP).