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Apr 01, 2013 at 08:32am IST

Rajnath's 'Team 2014' includes Modi, Amit Shah, Varun

New Delhi: BJP President Rajnath Singh finally unveiled his team for the 2014 general elections. Gujarat Chief Minister and party strongman Narendra Modi is back in the Parliamentary Board after a gap of six years. He will also be a member of the central election committee. Modi's close aide Amit Shah, the former Gujarat Home Minister who is out on bail in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case and accused in the Tulsiram Prajapati case, has been made the party General Secretary. He said, "I thank all my supporters." Adding to his defence, BJP Vice President SS Ahluwalia said, "We believe in the criminal jurisprudence of India. And that says that till the guilt is proven, everybody is innocent."

Controversial BJP leader Varun Gandhi, recently exonerated in the hate speech case, was elevated to the post of General Secretary. BJP leader Vinay Katiyar was quoted as saying, "The Gandhi surname gets natural attention in all parties, whether the BJP or Congress." Varun's case was pushed forward by senior party leaders Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The timing of his appointment also coincides with Rahul Gandhi's elevation to Vice President in the Congress.

Senior BJP leaders and close aides of patriarch LK Advani, Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh, were among the prominent leaders who failed to find a place in the new party. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda were also left out. Without commenting on his own exclusion, Yashwant Sinha expressed disappointment at the decision and said, "If Arjun Munda had been selected for the national team from Jharkhand, the people would have been very happy."

On matter of the Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections, Vice Presidnet Smriti Irani said, "The decision to select the Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 is the right and responsibility of the Parliamentary board." Narendra Modi's inclusion in the party's highest decision-making body has apparently set the stage for a bigger national role for him.