Describing Gujarat CM Narendra Modi as being "impeccably secular, honest and fully qualified" to become the Prime Minister, senior lawyer and Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani today said the BJP should announce his candidature for the top post before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
"Modi is honest, possesses administrative ability and is fully qualified to become the Prime Minister. He is BJP's best bet for the top post," Jethmalani told reporters here today.
"The BJP must announce its candidature for PM's post as people are expecting this from it. Announcing it after the polls will be counter-productive," Jethmalani said, adding, those opposing Modi's name, want the "corrupt" UPA government to continue in power.
Even in the past, Jethmalani had advocated Modi as candidate for Prime Minister's post.
Asked whether he has talked to Modi over the issue Jethmalani said he had not met Modi for a long time.
About the public debate on Modi's secular credentials, he said, "Modi's critics should read the Indian Constitution carefully, in which the definition of secularism is given and those who do not understand it, raise the issue of secularism."
"'Secular' and 'communal' have become words of abuse today. People are using them indiscriminately without even understanding what they mean or signify...Modi is the most impeccably secular leader in India. In fact, he is hundred per cent secular" the senior advocate said.
People need to understand the meaning of Hindutva, which is secular in nature, he said.
Replying to a question on 2002 Gujarat riots, he said, "Modi's enemies are tarnishing his image through false claims to deliberately put him down."
When it was pointed out that senior BJP leader L K Advani's projection for the Prime Minister's post in 2009 and the 'India Shining' campaign in 2004 did not work in favour of the saffron party, he said, "One should not look back as to what happened in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Announcement of Modi's name as the PM candidate will benefit both-- the BJP as well as the NDA."
Jethmalani alleged the Centre was not disclosing the names of those having their black money stashed away in foreign banks, even though their details had been provided to the government.
"The non compliance of the apex court order by the Centre for the past one year, leads oneself to believe that it is their (those in the government) money, who want to keep it hidden," Jethmalani said.
On the draft JPC report on 2G scam, he said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should have owned up the responsibility.
"He should have appeared before the committee if he was honest," Jethmalani added.
The senior lawyer reiterated that he was against the capital punishment to rapists saying, death sentence would compel the criminals to kill the rape victims.