Kolkata: In a surprising statement, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Saturday said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the number one on the list as a potential prime minister from Bengal, remarking that the state should have one in the top post.
Ghosh made the comment while extending birthday wishes to Banerjee.
"I extend birthday wishes to our chief minister. I wish her a healthy and long life, because West Bengal's fortunes depend on her success.
"I want her to be healthy because she is the number one on the list as a potential prime minister from Bengal," he said.
Asked whether any BJP leader from Bengal stood the chance to become the country's prime minister, Ghosh said that could come at a later date.
"Maybe, we can have someone later. But now as a potential prime ministerial candidate from Bengal, she is number one on the list," he said.
Ghosh referred to the political developments in 1996, when the Communist Party of India-Marxist central committee had twice voted against its politburo member and then state chief minister Jyoti Basu taking over as the country's prime minister.
The United Front - a coalition of non-Congress and non-BJP political parties - had pressed hard for Basu to take the crucial chair. However, the CPI-M had argued that with the party's small strength, Basu would not be in a position to deliver as a prime minister.
"We missed out on Jyoti Basu becoming the prime minister, as his party did not allow him to occupy the top post," he said.
Ghosh also expressed his happiness about Pranab Mukherjee becoming the first person from the state to become the President (from 2012-2017).
"A Bengali should become the prime minister now," he added.
Ghosh's comments have apparently rattled the state BJP leadership, which is locked in an intense fight with the Banerjee-led ruling Trinamool Congress in its mission to put up a strong challenge to her in the coming Lok Sabha polls.
BJP national secretary and former state party president Rahul Sinha, when contacted by IANS, refused to speak on the issue "at this moment".