The Janata Dal (United), a key ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar, said on Sunday it had no objection to the appointment of Narendra Modi as chairman of the BJP poll panel as it was an internal matter of the saffron party and not a decision of the National Democratic Alliance.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is seen to be opposed to Mr. Modi’s name for the prime ministerial post by calling for a secular prime ministerial candidate, a position reiterated during the JD (U) national executive meeting in Delhi in April.
“This is the BJP’s internal matter. We cannot interfere in this. The decision is of the BJP, not the NDA,” JD (U) State president Bashishtha Narayan Singh told The Hindu.
“The JD (U) has given time to the BJP till December end to declare its candidate for the top post. The NDA partners will first deliberate on it. The JD (U)’s position is also quite clear. Today’s decision of the BJP is only part of their own strategy to take their party forward. We cannot comment on it,” Mr. Singh said.
Sanjay Singh, JD (U) spokesperson, said that the party’s agenda was made “clear” in the national executive meeting. Whereas, “the NDA candidate will be declared after a meeting of NDA partners.”
JD (U) also felt that Sunday’s development would not impact the ruling NDA alliance in Bihar.
“There is no impact on the alliance. The BJP is well within its rights to appoint Mr. Modi. He is the head of the poll panel of the BJP, not NDA and we are part of NDA, not BJP. So we are not bothered and not concerned by it at all. We have no objection. Our reservation was only with regards to the prime ministerial candidate and our original stand on it remains,” JD (U) leader Devesh Chandra Thakur told The Hindu from Mumbai.
Asked if the BJP was laying the ground for making Mr. Modi the PM candidate, Mr. Thakur said, “No I don’t think they are trying to build a consensus. In the past the BJP has named one person as head of its poll panel and declared a different PM candidate.”
The Bihar BJP, however, welcomed the decision with aplomb. Party workers in Patna and district burst crackers to celebrate the announcement.
Mangal Pandey, BJP State president, said with Mr. Modi at the helm there was a lot of enthusiasm among party workers. The decision would also impact the 2014 polls.
As for the JD (U), “it must decide if it wants to stay together or not,” Mr. Pandey told The Hindu from Goa.
“It’s our party’s political decision. As a party we work separately. I don’t think any other party should have any objection. If someone has a problem, we will move ahead whether or not anyone stays with us. We do hope the JD (U) remains in the NDA. Mr. Modi is a popular leader and all the partners should benefit from him,” he said.
Mr. Modi, who has not campaigned in Bihar for earlier elections, purportedly because of Mr. Kumar’s opposition, would be addressing a BJP rally in Patna on October 27.