Rajnath Singh, then BJP President, gave the first nod to name Narendra Modi as BJP's prime ministerial candidate and said he was convinced after interacting with party workers.
New Delhi: It is one of the rarest kinds of comparisons by Narendra Modi's senior colleague in the party and now the country's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
In a tweet in Hindi, Rajnath said, "When there is a reference about Kashi Vishwanath in future, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name will figure with galaxy of those such as Ahilya Bai Holkar and Maharaja Ranjit Singh."
Hindi tweet is reproduced here:
"भारत के सांस्कृतिक इतिहास में जब भी काशी विश्वनाथ धाम के लोकार्पण का ज़िक्र आएगा, मंदिर का पुनरुद्धार करने
वाली अहिल्या बाई होल्कर, इसके शिखर को स्वर्ण मंडित करने वाले महाराजा रणजीत सिंह और मंदिर को भव्यता और दिव्यता प्रदान वाले श्री
@narendramodi का नाम भी हमेशा याद किया जाएगा".
Rajnath, a former BJP national president, also posted a photograph of Modi in red robes offering water to Surya Dev.
The bond between Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi goes back to the early part of 2013 when Rajnath took over the reins of the BJP after Nitin Gadkari was 'stopped' by L K Advani and others from doing over a corruption issue. In June 2013, Rajnath first gave the nod to name Modi as BJP's prime ministerial candidate. Advani stayed away from the Goa conclave, so did a few other senior leaders, such as Yashwant Sinha.
Rajnath remained defiant and on Sept 13, 2013, announced Modi as PM-candidate of the NDA coalition, yet again getting rebuke from the likes of Advani and other leaders. The BJP observers say, had Rajnath's gamble failed, he would have faced the music.
In May 2014, Rajnath Singh had told this journalist that he took the risk, as after interacting with party workers and others, he was convinced about the overwhelming support for Narendra Modi.
"Agar yeh Modi-Rajnath juggal bandi hae…yeh deliberate hae," Rajnath Singh had told me.
In electoral strategy, the BJP did minute micro to macro-level planning. It also focused on floating voters and tried to address each section–like farmers, students, women separately. Rajnath, Modi and Amit Shah ensured the involvement of hundreds of RSS workers in the BJP campaign in Uttar Pradesh. The trio focused on economic issues like jobs. This brought in dividends as even the party could make a dent among non-Yadavs, Dalits and other OBCs who were close to BSP once.
At the same time, they never gave up Hindutva per se. I had met a few Sadhus hermit protagonists during the 2014 election campaign. They said Rajnath has assured that "Ram Mandir banega (we have been told that Ram temple will be constructed)".
Selecting Varanasi for Modi was only aimed at strengthening that support base. On Dec 13, 2021, Varanasi has scripted another history. Comparing Modi with Ahilya Bai and Maharaja Ranjit Singh have their meaning.
Ahilya Bai was a great pioneer and builder of Hindu temples and Dharmashalas throughout India. Her greatest achievement was to rebuild the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in 1776.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh had donated one tonne of gold for plating the Kashi Vishwanath Temple's dome in 1835. Born November 1780, Ranjit Singh's armed forces were not limited to the Sikh community. He had hundreds of brave warriors fighting Muslims. He also had Jat Sikhs and Hindu Rajputs in Jammu and adjoining northern Indian hills.