New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday said the Karnataka assembly elections in May would be the "first test" for the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) new team.
"This is BJP's internal matter and I won't comment on it. The 2014 general elections are far. Karnataka is the first test for the team," said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi.
Earlier in the day, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was re-inducted into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary board — the highest decision making body — that will lead the party in the next general elections, a BJP spokesperson said.
BJP president Rajnath Singh announced his new team on Sunday.
"Narendra Modiji is one of the popular leaders of the country, and that is why he is in the parliamentary board," BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told reporters, adding, "New and experienced faces are included in the team, as our aim is to win the 2014 elections and relieve the country of bad governance by the Congress."
Modi's return to the parliamentary board after a gap of six years ensures that he will play a key role in the decision making within the party for the next general elections.
"After discussion with senior party leaders, this team has been announced. I think it is a perfect and balanced team," BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters.
He said the new team would help the BJP win the next Lok Sabha polls.
Modi is the only chief minister to be on the parliamentary board. He also finds a place in the party's central election committee.
Modi's trusted aide and Gujarat's former home minister Amit Shah, former central ministers Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ananth Kumar, and young parliamentarian Varun Gandhi have been made general secretaries of the party.
Shah had to quit as minister after being accused of being behind the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a staged shootout in 2005.
Two cases were registered against Varun Gandhi for delivering "hate speeches" during his 2009 election campaign. He was exonerated of the charge early this month.
On tainted people like Shah being inducted into key positions, BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said: "People don't come to the BJP from one family; they are inducted on merit. Unless a court verdict comes or the Supreme Court says something, we cannot prohibit him from occupying a position in the party."
Smriti Irani and Uma Bharti have been elevated as vice-presidents of the party, while senior BJP leader Yashwant Singh has found no place in the new team.
"The rejig was done by the new party president keeping in mind the general elections of 2014. The party will announce the prime ministerial candidate when the time comes," BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said.
On stopping short of announcing a prime ministerial candidate, BJP leader Nirmala Sitaraman said: "All groups and regions have been well represented in the new team. I don't think too much need to be read into (the holding back of an announcement of the prime minister candidate)."
"There is young blood too in the team," she said.
Welcoming Modi's elevation, BJP leader Giriraj Singh said: "It is good news and will infuse more power and strength into the party."