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Is Rajnath Singh the next BJP chief?
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | December 24, 2005 11:13 IST
Last Updated: December 24, 2005 17:27 IST
While the top brass of the Bhartiya Janata Party continues to deny that any decision has been taken about the next president of the party who would take over from Lal Kishenchand Advani next week, Dr Murali Manohar Joshi congratulated Rajnath Singh for his selection as the next party chief.
Advani told newsmen in New Delhi that no decision has been taken in the matter and hence, he has nothing to say on the issue. The same view was echoed by M Venkaiah Naidu former president of the BJP. "Informal discussions are still going on. At the moment, Advani is the party president," he said.
He confirmed that he has declined to take up the presidentship of the party as he had already had served the party in that capacity and there was no dearth of talent in the party.
According to sources, the denial by the party is nothing more than posturing because the party had promised Pramod Mahajan that there would be no announcement about the new president till December 30, 12 pm, when the party's celebrations come to an end.
"It seems that the media wants to convert December 24 as December 30 and get the name of the person who is likely to succeed Advaniji. As Pramodji told the media last week in Delhi, Advaniji would stay as the president of the party till the end of the convention. When he would resign and who would be the next party president would be known only after he tenders his resignation," an aide of Advani told rediff.com.
Senior party leader J P Mathur had earlier confirmed to rediff.com that Rajnath Singh would take over as BJP president when Advani steps down.
"His name has been finalised after due consultations with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leadership and the two senior leaders of the party Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani," he said.
Top functionaries of the RSS Mohan Bhagwat and Suresh Soni played a major role in Singh's selection, sources said.
Singh has in the recent past led the party to outstanding victories in the Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand elections.
Singh called on Advani on Saturday morning and is likely to call on Vajpayee later.
His name will be formally announced in the Mumbai session.
"I will accept whatever responsibility the party gives me," Singh told when newsmen contacted him, but refused to comment further about his selection or other related issues.
Party sources said Singh will initially be president for a year, after which the party will elect a president for a full term.