New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, seen as a prime ministerial candidate by many in the BJP, hogged the limelight at the national council meeting here Saturday even as president Rajnath Singh asked the party ranks to be prepared for early Lok Sabha polls.
Modi got a standing ovation at the meeting as Rajnath Singh garlanded him to loud cheers from the gathering, which included senior party leaders, and referred to him as a "popular chief minister".
He said every BJP worker was proud that the party had won for the third successive occasion in Gujarat.
"Narendra bhai was successful for the third time. Every worker, leader was filled with joy when it happened (December last). The party had not seen such success under leadership of an individual. It is a new record in BJP's history," Rajnath Singh said, adding international community including the US and European Union were praising development and "good governance" in Gujarat.
The BJP chief again lauded Modi while praising party chief ministers for their achievements even as party workers clapped loudly each time Modi's name was taken.
Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel almost demanded that Modi should be projected as prime ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
"Though the prime ministerial candidate will be chosen later it appears as if he (Modi) is the PM. Decision has not been taken (to project Modi for the post as prime ministerial candidate but) every child wants it," he said to applause.
Rajnath Singh, whose presidential address lasted over 90 minutes, also asked party workers to to gear up for "crucial" assembly elections this year, including in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi -- all "important" to the BJP.
"The year 2013 is important for us. The elections to Lok Sabha may also take place anytime," he said.
"It is clear that we all workers will have to gear up in preparations for the Lok Sabha when we go back to our respective place after the meeting with the resolve of victory in all the (assembly) elections and finally for the Lok Sabha," he said.
The BJP chief expressed confidence that a BJP prime minister will unfurl tricolour from the Red Fort after the next general elections. "The 20th century belonged to Congress and the 21st century will belong to the BJP," he said.
He called upon workers to not hanker for posts and work for party's success.
Seeking to reach out to minorities, Rajnath Singh said his party has never discriminated on the basis of religion and caste in society.
"Hindutva is a way of life due to which all religions of the world exist in India," he said.
He said there was anger among people over policies of Congress-led UPA government which had led to price rise and they were looking for an alternative.
Referring to twin blasts in Hyderabad last month, he said UPA was not capable of getting rid of the problem of terrorism.
He said though Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had expressed regret over his "Hindu terrorism" remark, his original comments were "part of a well-thought out conspiracy", adding there was a mention in Wikileaks about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stating that the biggest threat was from "Hindu terrorism".
Referring to 2G spectrum controversy, coal allocation and the helicopter deal kickbacks , Rajnath Singh said: "UPA scams had touched the skies, land and the earth below."
He also reiterated BJP's promise to create separate state of Telangana and not allow FDI in multibrand retail.
The economic resolution demanded a rollback of hike in prices of petroleum products and steps to bring down fertilizer prices and warned of a nation-wide agitation if its demands were not met.
It attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying the "the country has to suffer the ignominy of experiencing economic downslide under leadership of an economist prime minister".
Modi will address the meeting Sunday which has been called in the wake of Rajnath Singh taking over president in January.