In the last week of August 2014, three months after the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office, Rajnath Singh relinquished the post of BJP president. Rajnath became Union home minister, the number two according to official protocol and the mood about the new government was euphoric.
Suddenly, news based on an unsubstantiated source put the government, particularly Rajnath, in an awkward position. It was picked up by outlet after outlet until it became a talking point inside the corridors of power. The news pertained to a supposed conversation between Modi and Rajnath’s son Pankaj, now an MLA in Uttar Pradesh Assembly.
The news and the consequent gossip around it could have demolished Rajnath’s hard-earned reputation. Rajnath met Modi at his official residence and immediately after returning to his then Ashoka Road residence spoke to the media. Rajnath appeared visibly agitated, his kurta sleeves rolled up, literally flexing his muscles and assertively talked about his son of the soil upbringing, the transparency he maintained in public life and stating that he would quit politics if what was being talked about in the media was ever proved.
Shortly thereafter, the Prime Minister’s Office and BJP president Amit Shah issued a statement terming the news “baseless and motivated.” The matter ended there and Rajnath continued in office for the next five years.