Mumbai: BJP President Rajnath Singh today said Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was not included in the party's top decision-making Parliamentary Board since there was only one vacancy that was filled by his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi.
He also rejected suggestions that Modi, one of the main contenders for nomination as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, had lobbied for himself or any of his supporters to be included in the new team.
"We had only one vacancy in the Parliamentary Board. There is no doubt that the performance of Chouhan is also excellent. It is very good. But there was only one vacancy and Narendrabhai is the senior-most Chief Minister. It was possible to have only one of them, so we chose Modi," Singh told reporters here.
"Not even once did Modi ask me who was I inducting in the (new) team or discuss the issue with me even once. If I am telling untruth, even Modi will think my party President is speaking untruth. All such reports are baseless," he said responding to a query about Modi's imprint on his team.
Leaders close to Modi including Amit Shah, a former Gujarat Home Minister facing murder charge in two fake encounter cases, and Rajya Sabha MP Smriti Irani were on Sunday inducted in the new team as General Secretary and Vice
Asked if the reason former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha did not find a place in the new dispensation was because he was one of the first to demand the resignation of former party President Nitin Gadkari, Singh said, "Newspaper reports that Sinha was dropped are untrue. He was not a member of any
board. He was a member of the National Executive."
To a query if Sinha was ignored for violating party discipline, Singh said, "I can assure you that of all the parties in India, BJP is comparatively the only party with maximum discipline."
To a query on Sinha objecting to JPC Chairman P C Chacko's decision to send a questionnaire to former Telecom Minister A Raja and writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to appear before the panel examining the 2G spectrum scam, Singh said, "Raja himself is ready. He is, in fact, saying that he should be called (to depose before JPC)."
On why Amit Shah was appointed General Secretary despite facing serious criminal charges, the BJP President said, "The matter is subjudice. We will have to wait for the court verdict. Why should we consider someone guilty before that."
Singh also slammed the state and central governments for being "insensitive" to the serious drought in Maharashtra. Union Agricultural Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar should ask the Prime Minister for more relief to the state to tackle drought or pull out of the UPA government if the Centre failed to do enough to mitigate the suffering of the people, he said.
"The Rs 70,000 crore irrigation projects in Maharashtra have only yielded a scam. Despite the large investments, merely 0.1 per cent of land has been irrigated in the last ten years. People are suffering owing to the corruption in the implementation of the projects," he said.
Asked about party colleague and Leader of the Opposition in the state Legislative Council Vinod Tawde criticising "waste" of huge quantities of water for the upkeep of cricket grounds for the IPL matches in the drought-hit state, he said, "The state party unit will take a call on the issue."
On ally Shiv Sena's President Uddhav Thackeray's statement that NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate should be declared before polls, Singh said, "I have so far not spoken to Uddhav on this."