The Janata Dal (United), a principal ally of the BJP, has not taken too kindly to the campaign to project Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the saffron party's prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha elections.
Apparently implying that Modi had failed to provide protection to Muslims during the Gujarat riots of 2002, JD(U) national spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari said in New Delhi on Sunday, "Modi had failed to discharge raj dharma (ruler's responsibility) in Gujarat. When he can't do justice to five crore people in a state, how can he do justice to 125 crore in the country?"
Senior BJP leader LK Advani had endorsed a US Congressional committee report that said Modi might be a prime ministerial candidate in the next general election due in 2014.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav obliquely criticised Modi's fast, saying, "Nearly half the country's population does not get even one decent meal a day and yet it has become a fashion for people to go on fast."
However, his party colleagues in Patna tried to play down the matter, saying that the BJP had not officially declared the party's prime ministerial candidate.
Bihar JD(U) chief Bashistha Narain Singh, struck a conciliatory note, saying, "This is not the BJP's official stand. The fast is an issue related to the state."
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, however, was non-committal. He simply folded his hands and smiled when asked to comment on Modi's fast.
(With PTI inputs)