Campaigning for the upcoming Gujarat elections, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj today came out in open support for Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a potential prime ministerial candidate for the next general elections. "There are no boundaries for the post of Prime Minister. I feel Narendra Modi is capable to become the next PM and I have no doubts about it. He is both capable and suitable for holding the PM's post," Ms Swaraj said in Vadodara today, where she was campaigning for next month's elections. Mr Modi is eyeing a third straight term as chief minister in these polls.
The Gujarat Chief Minister is one of the most popular leaders of the BJP, and is often said to be one of the strong contenders for the NDA's prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 general elections. His ambition to be selected as his party's candidate for prime minister is also well known.
However, not everybody in the NDA coalition is a part of the Modi bandwagon. Keen to check Mr Modi's prime ministerial aspirations is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. His party the Janata Dal United or JD(U) is a senior member of the NDA, which is led by the BJP. Mr Kumar has said that as the largest party in the ensemble, the BJP has the prerogative of picking the coalition's prime ministerial candidate. However, he has warned that he will exit the group if the BJP makes Mr Modi its nominee. 18 per cent of Bihar is Muslim, and their vote is crucial for Mr Kumar. He has stressed that the NDA's prime ministerial candidate must have secular credentials - a thinly-veiled remark against Mr Modi, whose ambitions to move to the national landscape from Gujarat are hampered by the communal riots in his state in 2002.
The BJP has kept the issue of Prime Ministerial candidate on the backburner till now.
Currently though, Mr Modi's focus is Gujarat which goes to polls next month. Voting will be held in two phases on December 13 and 17 and results will be declared on December 20. Mr Modi is contesting from the Maninagar seat in Ahmedabad and faces suspended top police officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife Shweta Bhatt of the Congress. Mr Modi has been winning from the seat since 2002.
Mr Modi, today, launched the final leg of his campaign for next month's polls after offering prayers at the famous Somnath temple at Veraval. "They (Congress) will face the worst defeat in Gujarat. The entire country is being crushed under the sins committed by the central government," Mr Modi said.