New Delhi: The decision to annoint Narendra Modi as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate was a right decision at the right time, party leader Arun Jaitley said Friday but noted that L.K. Advani's absence from parliamentary board meeting was a matter of sadness.
Jaitley, the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, told TimesNow news channel that the parliamentary board's decision to name the Gujarat chief minister as the prime ministerial candidate reflected the wishes of the party cadre.
"The party came to right decision at right time. I believe it is a winning decision," he said, maintaining the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) rank and file were overwhelmingly in favour of bigger role for Modi.
"Go around the country and ask party rank and file. I am sure they will take the same name," he said.
Jaitley said though the party had been led by Advani and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it was predominantly a party of the cadres.
"BJP is predominantly party of cadres. Overwhelming opinion of cadres has been factored in by the parliamentary board," he said.
Indicating that the party will strive to make the 2014 Lok Sabha elections a Modi versus Rahul Gandhi contest, Jaitley said he general election will be a a quasi-presidential contest.
He said that anti-incumbency will be a key issue and the election will be like a referendum on the issue of leadership.
He said Modi will prove a heavyweight whether it was "outgoing or incoming leadership" of the Congress.
"Modi's acceptability is because of good governance model in Gujarat," Jaitley said.
He said there was strong anti-incumbency against the UPA government on issues such as mismanagement of economy and price rise.
To a question on 2002 riots, Jaitley said Modi had moved on and his critics should also move on.
On Advani not being present at the parliamentary board meeting, Jaitley said, "The fact that he was not present made us sad."
He described Advani was a role model.
"In structured parties, it is good to have more than one opinion. Once a decision is taken, everyone falls in line and supports the decision," he said answering a query.