But Shiv Sena reiterates that Sushma is its choice

Suspended Bharatiya Janata Party MP Ram Jethmalani and another party leader, C.P. Thakur, on Tuesday backed the former Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha’s, statement that the party would stand to gain if Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is projected as party’s prime ministerial nominee ahead of the 2014 general election.

However, Shiv Sena, a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituent, reiterated its support for Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj as the prime ministerial candidate. Before his death the Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had said Ms. Swaraj would be an ideal choice for the job.

The BJP’s response to the chorus on Mr. Modi as PM candidate was on predictable lines. Asked about Mr. Jethmalani’s statement, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadeker reminded journalists that the Sena had voiced its own views on the subject.

“Ask me all the questions on the subject in one go so that I can answer them all together,” he said when a reporter wanted him to respond to Mr. Jethmalani’s comments.

Mr. Javadekar said while people were entitled to their views, the party would take a decision at the appropriate time. “When the decision is made, we would keep you posted.”

It is not for the first time that Mr. Jethmalani has talked of Mr. Modi as the best bet for the BJP. He was part of the group within the BJP that campaigned against the former party president, Nitin Gadkari. Last time he hit out against Mr. Gadkari, he said his views were endorsed by Mr. Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Shatrughan Sinha. BJP leaders are expecting Mr. Singh and Mr. Sinha to join the bandwagon of Modi for PM.

Mr. Jethmalani told reporters, “according to me, Narendra Bhai is the best Prime Minister for this country. Nothing has happened to change my mind... Modi in my definition of secularism is 100 per cent secular”.

“I don't believe that Mr. Yashwant Sinha has said anything to the contrary. He has supported my view and I am very happy that he has supported me. It lends greater credibility to what I have said,” he said.

“His [Mr. Modi’s] enemies and detractors have done their best to spoil his name by disseminating untruth and sometimes to my knowledge creating false evidence to support their false claim. I believe that he is impeccably secular and when I use the word best, it means better than all those who according to me are known aspirants of the job,” he said.