New Delhi: 12:53 pm: BJP President Rajnath Singh also attacked the UPA government over Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's Hindu terror remarks.
12:42 pm: Rajnath Singh, who took over as the BJP President, said he was not happy with the circumstances in which he was taking over as the party chief. "I'm hurt by the false allegations on Nitin Gadkari ji. I am accepting this post as a responsibility and not a job. The whole BJP is with Nitin Gadkari," Rajnath Singh said.
Slamming the Congress and the UPA government, Rajnath Singh said Congress was responsible for the economic crisis in the country. "After Congress, India has become a current account deficit country. We also ran the government and we were able to control inflation," Rajnath Singh said. "The Congress is only interested in vote bank politics," he added. He said the BJP will win in the 2014 General elections.
Rajnath Singh, who took over as the BJP chief, also said that party was with Nitin Gadkari and that the allegations against him were wrong.
12:25 pm: Welcoming Rajnath Singh as the BJP President, senior BJP leader LK Advani said he now holds the responsibility to lead BJP to victory in the 2014 Lok sabha elections. "The responsibility of victory in assembly and general elections in the next two years lies on Rajnath Singh. Rajnath Singh has to revive the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, where the party's position is painful."
12:15 pm: Speaking after Rajnath Singh's election as the BJP President, former party president Nitin Gadkari said he opted out of the race as he wanted to prove the corruption allegations against him wrong. He said, "False allegations were made against me with issues that I had nothing to do with. Till I come clean, I won't contest for the party President's post.
12 noon: The Bharatiya Janata Party has unanimously elected Rajnath Singh as the party president for the term 2013 to 2015. Rajnath Singh touched LK Advani's feet after the announcement was made.
Those present on stage with Rajnath Singh during the announcement were Murli Manohar Joshi, LK Advani, Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Thawar Chand Gehlot (BJP returning officer) and Ananth Kumar.
11:00 am: Rajnath Singh is set to become the BJP President as the party's parliamentary board endorsed his name at a meeting. Rajnath Singh will file his nomination shortly and the election will take place after noon.
10:43 am: The BJP Parliamentary Board meeting ended at the BJP office in Delhi. Rajnath Singh is set to be elected as the BJP President on Wednesday.
10:08 am: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Rajnath Singh, who is set to be elected as the BJP President. "I called up Shri Rajnath Singh ji and congratulated him. He brings with him vast experience of both organisation and administration," Modi tweeted.
10:05 am: Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari reached the BJP party office following which the parliamentary board meeting began.
10:00 am: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rajnath Singh has met senior party leader LK Advani and former party president Nitin Gadkari and is all set to take over as the party President. He will file his nomination at 10:15 am and will elected as the party President by 12:30 pm.
In a dramatic turn in the Bharatiya Janata Party presidential polls, Nitin Gadkari has announced that he will not seek a second term after controversy erupted over his name. Rajnath Singh is now all set to occupy the party's top post as party leaders have reached a consensus on him as BJP President.
After defying intense pressure against himself by a large section of the BJP and denying all allegations related to his Purti group of companies, Nitin Gadkari finally chose to throw in the towel. "I will continue to serve as a soldier and will stand by whoever is elected as president," Gadkari said.
Through the day on Tuesday, as the Income Tax department started carrying out surveys of investments in Purti group, Gadkari remained confident. Even when party leader Yashwant Sinha, a known Gadkari detractor, teamed up with Mahesh Jethmalani and threatened to challenge Gadkari's presidential nomination, he was steadfast.
But it was at a meeting in mumbai, with senior BJP leader LK Advani and RSS leader Bhaiyaji Joshi, that Gadkari finally relented. Rajnath Singh initially was the second choice for the RSS as the RSS was adamant till the end to back Gadkari.
As controversies swirled around Gadkari on Tuesday, a serious attempt was made by the BJP leadership to work out an alternative. In Delhi, senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley went into a huddle with RSS leader Ram Lal. In Mumbai, at the meeting between Gadkari, Advani and Bhaiyaji Joshi, Advani stated bluntly that he wasn't in favour of Gadkari.
Gadkari himself suggested that if there was no consensus on him, Rajnath Singh can be the BJP President. The anti-Gadkari camp in BJP felt vindicated with this move. "It is something good, which is happening. I hope that the people and BJP will realise the advice that I gave long ago was a sound advice. I feel more than vindicated," BJP leader and lawyer Ram Jethmalani said.
But for a party which claims to challenge the Congress in the next general elections, inability to chose a president of its own choice after issuing a notification bears ominous signs for the future.
Is Rajnath Singh better than Nitin Gadkari for the post?
In his previous presidential tenure, Rajnath Singh was accused of promoting factionalism within the BJP. Nitin Gadkari on the other hand was considered a lightweight all through to be leading a national party.
Under Rajnath Singh, the party failed to grow even in his own home state of Uttar Pradesh. Gadkari led the BJP alliance to a royal loss in Maharashtra, yet became the national president thereafter.
Rajnath Singh does not get on well with the likes of Arun Jaitley and other potential future faces of the BJP. Gadkari on his part couldn't manage the trust of his colleagues once the Purti group allegations came to light.