New Delhi: Amid growing speculation over Narendra Modi's role in the next Lok Sabha polls, BJP president Rajnath Singh on Saturday remained non-committal on the issue of Prime Ministerial candidate even as he hailed the Gujarat Chief Minister as most popular leader of the country.

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"Nobody can overlook this truth about Modi being India's most popular leader at this moment...There are no two opinions about it," Rajnath said.

At the same time, he said the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate would be decided by its Central Parliamentary Board where even his "personal opinion alone" does not matter. Praising Modi for his three consecutive victories in the Assembly polls, Singh said, "he has brought development model of Gujarat before the world. Just because one of communal riots, he is being vilified."

Singh pointed that there had been many communal riots during the rule of Congress chief ministers, but nobody talks about them. He took potshot at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who recently remarked at a CII event that no person riding on a horse will come to power and solve problems of India.

"The leader from the BJP, who will come to power in the next elections, will not come riding a horse. He will be a grassroot leader, who has worked for the last 30 to 35 years. "Unlike people, who have been hardly 5 to 10 years in politics, who studied in England, USA or Italy, and are being projected for the post of Prime Minister," he said.

Rejecting reports about infighting in BJP over the issue of Prime Ministerial candidate, Singh claimed that it is the only political party which has "never vertically divided" unlike the Congress or the Communist Party. "Even Atal ji and Advani ji were there. But they never hankered after posts. Had it been some other party, the party would have been vertically divided," the BJP President said.

Singh ruled out the possibility of NDA ally JD-U walking away from the alliance, saying such speculations are baseless. "Nitish Kumar has said that he would never support the Congress. JD(U), Shiv Sena and Akali Dal have been trusted allies of the BJP for last 15 years. On the other hand, the UPA has lost Trinamool Congress and DMK," he said.

Predicting that the UPA government will collapse the day the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party withdraw support, Singh told the two parties "not to do politics out of the fear of CBI." "The government may have CBI but I want to tell both SP and BSP...they should not do politics out of the fear of CBI. It is the people, who elect and give power to parties. These parties should understand the aspiration of people," he said.

To another query, Singh candidly said he was not a "charismatic leader" but vowed he would definitely work towards making the BJP the single largest party in next Lok Sabha elections. "The people of the country want the BJP to lead the next government," he said.

Asked about the issue of corruption vis a vis his predecessor Nitin Gadkari, who had to step down following graft charges, the BJP chief said Gadkari was "never forced" to quit and that he insisted on resigning because of constant attack from political opponents. Singh also pointed out that no charge sheet has so far been filed against Gadkari. "This is election year. We never told the Congress not to file the charge sheet. Then what is holding them from taking action?" he wondered.


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