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May 01, 2013 at 11:22pm IST

BJP PM candidate debate: It's Rajnath Singh, not Narendra Modi, for Varun Gandhi

Bareilly: Varun Gandhi praised Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh and said he has as much potential as former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to unite the country.

"His (Vajpayee's) thoughts were so great that every child in the country remembers his rule. I can say with full confidence that if there is any individual in the country who has that ability to bring together people of different religions and castes, then it is our honourable Rajnath Singh," he said speaking at a public meeting in the presence of the BJP chief.

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"There are no two views on it... there is an reflection of Atalji in Rajnath Singhji," Varun Gandhi said while addressing a party rally' in Devsara Mandi in the Aonla Lok Sabha constituency represented by his mother Maneka Gandhi

"Singh is a leader with a clean image and a son of Uttar Pradesh. It is the duty of the people of UP to support him so that people with clean image can come to power," Gandhi said.

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Heaping further praise on Singh, Gandhi said at the meeting "if there is any one person who can make India, it is Rajnath Singh. Even after being in politics for 40 years, there has not been a blemish on him."

Varun Gandhi's words in support of Singh, who elevated him to the post of General Secretary and included him in his new team of office-bearers, came at a time when there is a growing chorus within BJP for making Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the party's prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections.

But Modi's detractors in BJP and allies like JD(U) insist he is a divisive figure due to the 2002 post-Godhra riots taint on him. Asked about Gandhi's comments, BJP Vice -President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said "Vajpayee is an inspiration for all of us. We have moved ahead in life with his inspiration."

A senior BJP leader, however, was not impressed with Varun Gandhi's comparison of Singh with Vajpayee. "He had compared Singh's predecessor Nitin Gadkari and senior leader Sushma Swaraj too with Vajpayee at different public meetings in the past," the leader said.

(With Additional Inputs From PTI)

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