The Shiv Sena said on Wednesday that it was time the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) sat together and decided who would be the prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections. An editorial in the party mouthpiece, Samna, said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had opposed Narendra Modi’s name for Prime Minister. Mr. Kumar had said he was with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but not with Mr. Modi.
Today, it was a question of NDA’s future, the editorial pointed out. One faction of the BJP was projecting Mr. Modi, causing confusion. Was Modi really the PM candidate for the BJP? BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj must clarify matters once and for all. The BJP had a right to decide its candidate. But it could not name a candidate on its own, the editorial said, implying that it should take the NDA allies into confidence.
The BJP could support a candidate who would help win five or ten seats more, but the NDA would stand to lose more if supporters of long standing went away. BJP had more than one candidate for PM. It was up to the NDA to take a call.
Mr. Kumar wanted a secular candidate since he was counting on Muslim votes. It was true that the Godhra incident happened when Mr. Modi was Chief Minister. The Sabarmati Express was set on fire, triggering communal riots. But had Keshubhai Patel or Shankarsingh Vaghela been the Chief Minister then, the same events would have occurred, the editorial said.
The riot was a spontaneous reaction from the Hindu community. But unlike the late Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, or the Sena itself, Mr. Modi did not openly side with the Hindus, the editorial said. The Hindus who retaliated or took an aggressive stand were in jail and they had no saviours. Even policemen who took on terrorists were rotting in jail now. So were the policemen who killed Ishrat Jahan — what could one make of this, asks the editorial.