Any row on the issue would amount to committing a "hit-wicket"

Amid indications that the Bharatiya Janata Party could name the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate after the end of the current session of Parliament (September 6), the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has said the sooner the party announced its candidate, the better it would be for it.

This is the second time in a span of over a week Mr. Jaitley, who has been in the forefront of the campaign for Mr. Modi as party’s best bet for the 2014 election, has not only pitched in for the Gujarat Chief Minister but also said that party should avoid `unnecessary controversy’ over the issue .

His remarks have come at a juncture when the RSS is in the process of convincing some of the senior leaders like L.K. Advani and the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj not to create any hurdle in the path of Mr. Modi.

Some of these leaders who have not given their up their prime ministerial ambitions have been pressing against an early announcement on the party’s prime ministerial choice.

Mr. Advani had raised a banner of revolt a day after the party’s National Executive named Mr. Modi as the chief of the BJP’s national election campaign committee chief at Goa in June but subsequently mollified by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Interestingly Mr. Jaitley chose to speak out his mind at a conclave of the BJP's Legal and Legislative Cell here on Saturday. In an oblique reference to senior leaders resisting naming of Mr. Modi as the party’s choice for 2014 general election, Mr. Jaitley has argued that any row on the issue would amount to committing a “hit-wicket” and turn out to be the only possible reason for the main Opposition losing the upcoming general elections.

“We should not get a hit-wicket. That is a scenario where nobody bowls you out, but you give your own wicket. That is the only way we are going to lose this election,” he told the delegates at the conclave.

The other pet theme of Mr. Jaitley in recent weeks has been that 2014 election would be akin to a presidential election where personalities would dominate the discourse followed by outcome.

His case at the conclave was that the UPA was plagued by leadership issue besides corrupt image triggered by scams which has made people look to the BJP.

“Parliamentary elections at times also become [like] presidential elections, especially when the leader enjoys overwhelming popularity. This has happened in the case of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in the past,” he contended.

He said the BJP had lost two consecutive elections but today the mood was in the BJP's favour as strong anti-incumbency factor working against the UPA government which would prove fatal for it.

Mr. Jaitley lamented how the BJP had been speaking in different voices on key issues, saying that it had affected its image.

“Our problem is that we have too many spokespersons. A person has been going on television channels claiming to be from the BJP youth wing. We have not been able to trace this spokesperson.”

On the exchanges he had with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the floor of Rajya Sabha on Friday, Mr. Jaitley contended that Dr. Singh's attitude was one of “anger” and “pessimism” and this shows showed he had “run out of ideas” for reviving the economy.

“Instead of telling us about the road map to improve the economy he was angry and pessimistic. This attitude means you have no ideas on how to revive the economy. You have run out of ideas.”

More In: National | News