New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has raked up the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate debate again with a statement clearly backing party leader LK Advani. "There is no doubting the fact that LK Advani is our tallest leader," Chouhan said in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN.
Chouhan's statement comes hours after Yashwant Sinha spoke out in support of Advani as the Prime Ministerial candidate. Sinha had said if Advani was available to be the PM candidate, it will end the debate on NDA's PM nominee.
"Advaniji is the senior-most, most respected leader and if he is available to lead the party and government, then that should end all discussion. Everyone should fall in line and work together for the party under his leadership. But the call will have to be taken first by Advaniji himself, secondly by the party and finally by NDA," Sinha had said to Economic Times.
Chouhan, however, added that he was in "no competition with (Gujarat Chief Minister) Narendra Modi". "I am in no competition with Modi. I have not heard what (Bihar CM) Nitish Kumar has said. But Chief Ministers shouldn't comment on one another," he said.
On Sunday, Nitish Kumar, without naming Modi, had made his opposition to the Gujarat Chief Minister apparent in his valedictory address at the end of the JD(U) National Council. Nitish minced no words in warning his long standing ally that he would not think twice before pulling out of the NDA if Modi is projected as the PM candidate by the BJP.
While speaking to CNN-IBN, Chouhan also sought to differentiate his model of development from that of Gujarat's and Bihar's. "My model of development helps the weakest link, not the capitalists. Different states have different growth models. Gujarat, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh can't have the same models."
Chouhan further said that he had no desire to be PM, adding that the open debate on the PM candidate was not in the best interest of the party. "It is not in the best interest of the party to have a free for all debate on the PM candidate. Everyone must be within the boundaries of discipline."
Chouhan is seen by many within the BJP as an able competitor to and as successful a Chief Minister as Modi. However, at the recent BJP conclave, it was Modi who was inducted into the BJP Parliamentary Board and not Chouhan.