BJP's Sushma Swaraj with Shiva Sena supremo Bal Thackeray
BJP response cryptic, JD (U) remains restrained
New Delhi: Shiva Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's endorsement of BJP leader Sushma Swaraj as an ideal prime ministerial candidate of NDA in his interview to Sena mouthpiece Saamna did not kick up the expected controversy in the BJP and in NDA, though the media is abuzz with it.
It is being argued that two key allies of the BJP in NDA, the Shiva Sena and the Janata Dal (United) are not favour of Gujarat chief minister Narender Modi as prime ministerial candidate, and who is seen by some starry-eyed BJP watchers as the man of destiny. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in an interview to a newspaper had said that the NDA's prime ministerial candidate has to be secular. This was interpreted to mean that Modi does not fit the bill.
The Congress did not let go the opporutnity to take some pot shots at the BJP and NDA
BJP spokesman Sah Nawaz Husain made the clipped remark, “BJP will decide on the issue (on who will be the party's prime ministerial candidate) at the right forum and announce the name at the right time.”
A party member from Maharashtra speaking on condition of anonymity said, “Bal Thackeray is Bal Thackeray! What can one say! Had Arun Jailtey met him (Sushma swaraj had met hn when she was in Mumbai last week) he would endorsed Jaitley.” It was an ambiguous statement, which seemed to imply that Thackeray is an impetuous man and he says what he feels like and his opinion should not be taken to reflect political reality. Said anothet senior JD (U) leader speaking on condition of anonymity, ”Thackeray had not ever visited Delhi. He is a non-political man.”
The JD (U) leader said that Nitish Kumar had never named Narender Modi and when asked about the prime ministerial candidate he replied in general terms that that person has to be secular, and that it was the media that which had inferred that Nitish Kumar was eliminating Narender Modi from the PM race. He also said that no one plans two years ahead in politics, referring to the scheduled 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He was keenly aware that the JD (U) cannot decide the BJP's prime ministerial choice because of the stark difference between the two in numerical strength.
A BJP leader also said that the party is now focused on the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, to be followed by state assembly elections in 2013. He said that the party may not name its prime ministerial candidate till after the Lok Sabha election in 2014 though he was sure that NDA will form the government.
Many of the BJP leaders have no doubts that none of the NDA partners can veto the BJP's choice for a prime minister because the party will retain its, they argue, position as the single largest party. Party leaders also feel that the issue will be decided at the BJP parliamentary board.
The issue as to who will be the prime minister remains contentious in the BJP and the party leadsers are trying to seek proedural norms and means to find a solution. There are others inside BJP as well as outside that it is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the idoelogical mentor, which will decide the issue.
A BJP leader recopunted that long before 1996, Atal Bihari Vajpayee attended a Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) convention and the audience roared, “agli baari atal bihari (Next time it's Atal Bihari)”. Vajpayee smiled and told them that he had heard the slogan as long as he could remember and that he was yet to become the prime minister. He then told the enthusiats that the choice of the prime minister of the country is decided not by the party but by the country and by the people.