New Delhi: The three-day conclave of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today kicked off with the spotlight on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, projected by some as the party's prime ministerial face, amid voices that his popularity has grown significantly to make a mark on the national stage.
The Conclave, convened mainly to ratify the president-ship of Rajnath Singh who took over in January, will see the party deliberate on its roadmap in the run up to the next general elections besides discussing the political and economic issues confronting the country.
In the national executive meeting today, the rising stock of Mr Modi was visible as party leaders, including Rajnath Singh, gave him a special welcome and noted that the European Union is recognising his achievements.
Modi was lauded by the party president for achieving the unprecedented feat of winning three consecutive assembly elections in Gujarat.
"The party president accorded a special welcome to Narendra Modi. He has created a new record among the BJP chief ministers by being the first to be re-elected for the third consecutive term with a very convincing majority. All the national executive members also welcomed him," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told a press conference.
Mr Singh appreciated Mr Modi's performance again in his speech when he criticised the UPA government's "failure" to revive the economy.
"There's a growing interest in Mr Modi as the PM candidate. This is due to a groundswell building up among the people...I think Mr Modi has made a huge mark on Indian polity," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said.
Setting the mood for the conclave in his speech, Mr Singh said, "If 20th Century was a century of the Congress, let 21st Century be the century of the BJP."
This is the first National Executive and Council Meet of the BJP since Mr Singh took charge as the president. The formalities of his acceptance by the BJP National Council- a body comprising of nearly 2,200 office-bearers and members from across the states and the Central leadership- will be completed tomorrow.