‘If candidate is not like Vajpayee, it will have negative consequences for NDA’
Leaving no scope for the BJP to duck the issue, the Janata Dal (United), one of its key allies, demanded on Sunday that the party announce its prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general election by year-end, adding a caveat that the nominee’s “secular credibility” should be “beyond doubt.”
The resolution was adopted at the JD(U) plenary here, a day after the party made clear that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would not be an acceptable candidate because of his failure to prevent the 2002 riots.
The resolution warned that if the candidate was not like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it would have negative consequences for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made stinging comments against Mr. Modi, though he did not name him. He invoked Mr. Vajpayee’s famous phrase, ‘the need to observe raj dharma,’ when he was asked about the Modi government’s handling of the riots.
Stung by the jibes at Mr. Modi, the BJP put out a brief statement, hours after the conclave, rejecting “all unfounded inferences against Shri Narendra Modi” and said it expected the Opposition parties and allies to focus on defeating “the non-performing and corrupt UPA.”
In his 40-minute address, Mr. Kumar punctured the claims Mr. Modi made in recent months on Gujarat’s growth story and on how the model, if replicated, could transform the country. Amid peals of laughter, he said many people accepted it as development even when a developed State grew, and stressed that there was need to see from where a particular State started growing.
“Only one who can carry with him all the diverse sections of people can become the leader of the nation. This was Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s personality. Now, if there is an attempt to change the path, there is bound to be problems. The country does not run by mere projection. Some persons think they will create a wave, and people will accept it,” he said.
The resolution said: “The JD (U) is of the clear view that the name of the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate should be declared before elections ... It has clear views on what kind of prime ministerial candidate should be there. He should be committed to the NDA’s national agenda of governance, and to the earlier decided position on the three issues [the Ram Temple at Ayodhya, abrogation of Article 370 and a uniform civil code].
“His image should be such that his secular credibility in a multi-religious and multilingual country like India should be beyond doubt. He should be in favour of inclusive politics and committed and sensitive to the development of backward States and regions.”
Since the BJP was the largest party in the NDA, it was its “duty” to “keep in mind” these things before announcing its candidate, it said.