BJP, JD(U) chasm widens
Differences between the BJP and the Janata Dal (United) touched a new high on Wednesday threatening the stability of Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government and also the unity of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Nitish Kumar’s remarks that JD(U) would not support his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate did not go down well with the BJP and its mother organisation. Both stood firmly behind Modi.
JD(U) MP Shivanand Tiwari lashed out at Modi blaming him for the defeat of the NDA government in 2004. “The NDA cannot come to power with a "fanatic face" and the JD(U) will not compromise on principles on which it had joined the Opposition alliance in 1996,” Tiwari said adding there would be no compromise on secularism. “ It does not matter if the Bihar government stays or goes. We will not compromise ."
However, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav is trying hard to keep his party’s relationship with the BJP intact.
According to sources, Yadav assured BJP leaders that his party will do everything to evolve a consensus on all the issues including that of the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA. He tried to underplay the issue.
In Bihar, Gajraj Singh, a minister belonging to BJP, lashed out at Nitish Kumar and boycotted a scheduled cabinet.
“Suddenly you recall Gujarat riots and rake up the issue of NDA’s prime-ministerial candidate when the alliance is busy with the Presidential poll candidate,” said Singh, without taking any names. “I will strongly favour Narendra Modi for the top post, even at the risk of being sacked from the Nitish’s ministry.”BJP’s mother organisation too backed him without naming him. This came as a surprise because of late RSS does seem to happy with Modi. This became apparent when Sanjay Joshi was forced to leave the BJP.
Joining the issue, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat wondered why a 'Hinduwadi' should not become the Prime Minister.
Bhagwat was unsparing in his criticism of the Bihar Chief Minister, saying his remarks reflected “political opportunism”. “Nitish Kumar has said NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 elections should be secular. This shows political opportunism. He has made the statement so that his vote bank remains intact,” he told a meeting of RSS volunteers in Latur.
Significantly, no senior leader in BJP leader defended Modi and it was left to party lightweight and MP Balbir Punj to back Modi. Punj said, “This is a needless controversy. Nobody has a right in this country to issue fatwa as to who is secular and who is not. People have their opinions.”
Shivanand Tiwary’s remarks found an instant reaction from the BJP which asked Nitish why he continued as the Railway Minister from February 2002 to May 2004 in the Vajpayee regime if he was so “pained and anguished” over Gujarat riots.
Tiwary had said that surveys indicate that had the Vajpayee dismissed the Modi government for the post-Godhara riots, NDA would have still been in power and not lost the 2004 general elections. “People who voted for the BJP due to liberal face of Vajpayee went away from it after Gujarat riots and the floating votes went to the Congress because people do not accept fanatic.”