Amid strong reservations within the party over Narendra Modi's much-speculated projection as BJP's prime ministerial candidate, the two-day national meet of JD(U) beginning in New Delhi from Saturday is set to bring the spotlight back on NDA's next candidate for the top post.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar at the meeting of chief ministers on National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in New Delhi. (PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist)
The national executive and national council meeting of JD(U) will also see a formal announcment of Sharad Yadav as the party's president for a third consecutive time.
The constitution of JD(U) was amended on March 5 to provide a 3rd term to Yadav who had first become its chief in 2006 replacing George Fernandes.
JD(U), whose antipathy to Narendra Modi is well-known, is likely to make a strong demand for early projection of the next prime ministerial candidate of the alliance and emphasise its committment to secularism ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
Though party leaders have remained tighlipped about the contents of the political resolution to be passed at the meeting, there is a likelihood that the party refrains from naming Modi in it but making its reservatioins against his candidature more than clear.
There are indications that the party leaders will vehemently oppose projection of the Gujarat chief minister for the top job.
Talking to PTI, Rajya Sabha MP from JD(U) Ali Anwar Ansari said "it is the old stand of the party that some secular leader should be projected as prime minister of NDA, a leader, who is acceptable to all and who believes in taking all sections together. It should be announced before the polls, who will be NDA's prime ministerial candidate."
Congress leader from Bihar Shakeel Ahmed, however, mocked at JD(U)'s "secular search" saying "if somebody is searching for secular leader and says no to Narendra Modi but yes to LK Advani, it makes no sense."
"Modi is the symptom of the disease (of communalism) that Atal Behari Vajpayee and Advani had spread," he said.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav had on Thursday evaded a direct reply on whether the party will oppose the projection of Modi. "We had never compromised on the issue of secularism nor will we do now," he said.
He was asked whether secular credentials of NDA's next Prime Ministerial candidate will be an important issue to be
discussed at the JD(U) meet.
On whether the party will discuss the issue of Modi's increased projection in BJP, he had said "there is no bar on any issue. Everything can be discussed. Sky is the limit as far discussing issues is concerned.
There has been unease in JD(U) over Modi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who runs a coalition government with BJP, has been a known critic of Modi.
A sizeable section in JD(U) believes that parting of ways with BJP will be unavoidable if Modi is projected a Prime Ministerial candidate in Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress has steered clear of problems within the NDA over the issue of PM candidate.
"JD(U) is part of the BJP-led NDA. We do not comment or interfere in the internal matters of other parties. It is for them to resolve....We do not look into that," party spokesman Rashid Alvi told reporters in New Delhi.
Alvi dismissed as "hypothetical" a question whether Kumar and his party are welcome to the UPA fold. He said right now they are part of the NDA.