Panaji: While the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders called the appointment of Narendra Modi as the party's poll campaign committee chief for the 2014 elections as "the road to victory", the Congress said it was not afraid of Modi and was confident of running the next general elections on its performance record.
"Keeping 2014 elections in mind, we have made Narendra Modi Chairman of Central Campaign Committee. The decision was unanimous. I am confident that BJP will come to power in the 2014 elections," BJP President Rajnath Singh said on Sunday.
The Congress, however, put up a brave face saying it is ready for the fight. "How can this party run the country when it can't even keep its leaders together? We are not afraid of Narendra Modi. We are ready for the fight," said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajeev Shukla.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh congratulated Modi but when asked if he thinks that the Gujarat Chief Minister could be named the BJP's PM candidate, he said "it was for the BJP to decide".
Meanwhile, several BJP leaders congratulated Modi and party workers were seen celebrating at different parts of the country. "Narendra Modi will improve BJP's position in the country. Modi will have an important role to play in the upcoming Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He will lead the BJP to success," said Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh.
"The BJP will continue to receive guidance from LK Advani. Party is going through a new phase, it is re-assessing it campaign strategy. Inducting new people into poll planning will definitely help the party in elections," he added. The BJP has been trying to playdown the absence of Advani, who is allegedly upset with Modi's elevation, from the National Executive. Advani skipped the meet citing health concerns.
BJP vice president Smriti Irani was also among the leaders who welcomed Modi's elevation. "I will just say that this is a decisive step towards victory in 2014," she said.
"LK Advani is a senior leader. It is because of him that the party has grown," said party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also called the decision on Modi as positive. "This decision will not only help the BJP but the entire nation. I congratulate Narendra Modi. BJP will form the government in the 2014," he said.
The BJP's Bihar ally the JDU, which is known to be against Modi, said the decision doesn't affect it because Modi has been appointed as the chief of BJP's poll campaign committee and not the NDA. "The JDU are members of the NDA. Narendra Modi has been made poll campaign chief of the BJP not the NDA. We stand by our position on the NDA's PM candidate. The PM candidate must be chosen through consultations with all NDA members," said JDU's Devash Chandra Thakur.
Shiromani Akali Dal's Naresh Gujral also gave a similar reaction. "We are not talking of projecting a prime ministerial candidate right now, let me make that very clear. When that issue comes up, the entire NDA will be consulted, so that question does not arise. He is only being made Chairman of Campaign Committee," he said.
"As Chairman of Campaign Committee I see no reason why any component of the NDA should have any objection. So, I'm sure when he goes to the people he will enhance the vote share of the BJP which in turn will help the NDA form the government at the centre," Gujral added.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut also welcomed the appointment of Modi. "This is a new era for the BJP. We will definitely benefit from this. It is Modi and BJP alongwith the NDA who will bring the alliance to power in 2014," he said.