The BJP displayed a tough political posturing on Sunday after ally Nitish Kumar hit out at Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s secular credentials and development record, defending its senior-most chief minister in a war of words with JD (U).
“The need of the hour is to defeat the non-performing and corrupt UPA... The BJP expects allies to keep their main focus on that. It is unfortunate if they concentrate their energies on our chief ministers and dilute the focus of removing the UPA,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, hours after Kumar’s attack. “We reject all unfounded references against Shri Narendra Modi.”
Kumar’s focused attack on Modi all through his speech took even BJP leaders by surprise. For, the previous night, when Kumar had met Rajnath Singh and expressed his reservations on Modi, Singh had suggested that there was no decision on the PM candidate yet and the party would take a call later. The message was: don’t jump the gun. Kumar had also met Arun Jaitley.
“Yet, he did a lot of political posturing, mocking our chief minister. So, we also decided to answer the posturing with our own message,” a BJP leader, aware of the developments, said.
While Kumar has been attacking Modi for weaning away the RJD’s Muslim vote in Bihar, BJP leaders have repeatedly claimed he too needs the BJP, which has a strong upper caste base in the state, to defeat Lalu Prasad.
Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh hailed Modi as the most popular leader of the nation and defended his record during the 2002 Gujarat riot, while saying the party will decide its PM-candidate later.
“I accept this that if there is someone who is the most popular leader in the nation, it is Narendra Modi...” Singh told journalist Karan Thapar. "To say that Modi had engineered the riots or took the side of one community cannot be expected from any chief minister.”
Singh has already elevated Modi to its top body the parliamentary board as a gesture to party workers among whom he is a craze, but the BJP unlikely to project him as its prime ministerial candidate anytime soon to keep the JD (U) in good humour. Without the JD(U), the NDA shrinks and the BJP stares at the prospect of losing Bihar.
PM-post issue: SAD, Sena call for consensus
Striking a discordant note with JD(U) which demanded BJP to declare a prime ministerial candidate by December, key NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said a consensus on the choice can be reached only after the polls. "I think we are jumping the gun if we try to predict today," SAD leader Naresh Gujral said. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena said it was not averse to any name being projected as BJP prime ministerial candidate, as long as all alliance partners are consulted. "All parties in the NDA should be consulted about NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate."