Ruling himself out of the prime ministerial race, BJP president Rajnath Singh on Sunday virtually anointed Narendra Modi as his man to the top job if the party comes to power after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
He also claimed that the party will get more allies nearer elections and after the polls too. The developmental issues rather than the Ram Janam Bhoomi dispute would dominate BJP's poll campaign.
"It's not necessary that party president should also be a crowd puller and a prime ministerial candidate. I have an assignment to do for my party. I have a job to deliver - that is victory of the party in the 2014 elections."
"Seven months before the elections, I have nominated Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as chairman of the party's election campaign committee. What is unusual in that? We have nominated Modi like other parties do and why read between lines. I have named him as campaign head in view of his image, popularity and commitment to the party," he told a press conference at the start of his five-day trip to New York and Washington.
Giving all indications that it could be Modi who is the prime ministerial candidate, Singh said the chief minister is certainly the most popular and tallest leader of India now.
"He is a crowd puller not only in Gujarat but also in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar - from North to South, East to West. He is one single leader with a national appeal. His popularity will help the party in the elections," he said.
On the question of party president not being projected as prime ministerial candidate in the Lok Sabha elections, he said it is necessarily not the one and the same.
"I am more interested in getting the BJP back into power in Center and packing off the corruption-ridden bad governance of the Congress in my tenure as president of the party," he said.
On the question of poll promises, he said BJP would rather go in for developmental debate than Ram Janma Bhoomi issue. "Ram temple was not a major poll issue anytime. It was at best a national issue but not an election issue," he added.
Accompanied by party MP Ananth Kumar, and leaders Vijay Jolly and Sudanshu Trivedi, Singh will present a key note address on India, Afghanistan and regional security at a conference in Washington on Tuesday.