JD(U) issues gag orders on spokespersons, says no rift in NDA

 With party leader Shivanand Tiwari's remark on UPA's handling of the economy creating unease in ally BJP, senior JD(U) leaders today got into fire-fighting mode and advised its spokespersons to consult them before speaking out.

"The support of the JD(U) to UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee is no indication of any rift in the NDA. NDA is united and will remain so," JDU chief Sharad Yadav told reporters here.

His remarks come in the wake of Tiwari, a JD(U) General Secretary, asking the BJP to reconsider its stand to back P A Sangma's Presidential bid and statements defending the UPA's handling of the economy.

He had also said the situation of the Indian economy would have been no different even if BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had been the country's Finance Minister.

"The statement I had given two days back is the authorised statement of the party. Other party leaders who are making statements should either consult me or Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar before going public," Yadav said.

He made it clear that JD(U)'s support to Mukherjee did not mean a dilution of the party's stand against the Congress.

"We consider Congress and the UPA responsible for the mess the country is in today," Yadav said.

He pointed out that NDA constituents had taken different stands during earlier Presidential elections. Shiv Sena had supported Congress nominee Pratibha Patil in 2007, he said.

Yadav pointed out that Akali Dal had also supported Zail Singh in the Presidential elections.

Sources said senior JD(U) leaders got into firefighting after controversial statement made by Tiwari, which were disapproved by both Yadav and Kumar.

BJP was not impressed with Tiwari's comments in favour of Mukherjee and wondered why JD(U), which till now had opposed the UPA government on price rise, was praising the Centre.

BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay had hit out at the JD(U) spokesperson for his pro-Mukherjee remarks.

"Why is Shivanand Tiwari's confidence so low that he is advocating the cause of the UPA government by defending its misrule and bad governance," Vijay had said.

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