A non-Congress, non-BJP PM backed by either of the national parties and an unstable government is how the BJP patriarch LK Advani sees the post-2014 election scenario.
Coming at a time when the National Democratic Alliance is trying to position itself as an alternative to the UPA, Advani's suggestion that the alliance may fall far short of a majority is likely to embarrass the party. General elections are due in 2014.
“A non-Congress, non-BJP prime minister heading a government supported by one of these two principal parties is, however, feasible. This has happened in the past as well,” the 84-year-old leader, an active blogger, said in his latest post.
Reactions were quick. “Advani has already conceded defeat by saying there would be no BJP prime minister,” minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Shukla said. Samajwadi Party leader Mohan Singh echoed the view.
Advani’s latest post, which he said followed discussions with two senior cabinet ministers who he didn’t name, is likely to be seen as oblique admission that the NDA failed to surge ahead despite graft charges and civil society movements pushing the UPA on the back foot.
The statement also coincides with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar making clear to the BJP his opposition to Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi being named the NDA’s PM candidate.
Kumar's Janata Dal (United) is part of the opposition alliance. BJP chief Nitin Gadkari is reported to have assured Kumar, who many believe harbours prime ministerial ambitions, that allies would be consulted before taking any decision.
While many see Modi as one of BJP's front-runners for the top job, Advani's blog may be read as giving the Gujarat CM little chance of being NDA's choice.