Bhartiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh on Wednesday described his party as “secular.” His effort would be to ensure that the National Democratic Alliance remained intact, he said.

Giving a clear signal that the party wants to continue its alliance with the Janata Dal (United) — which has strongly opposed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s possible candidature as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the next general election — Mr. Singh said his effort would be to ensure that the NDA did not break. “I believe that the Janata Dal (United) and the BJP will contest the next general election together. Things are not so bad,” he said during an interaction with women journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps here.

Asked about the Shiv Sena’s statement that Mr. Modi was not acceptable to most people, Mr. Singh said: “The BJP does not favour losing its allies who have been with it for long. This situation [with JD-U] is unfortunate. We would never want any ally to leave. Allies have different ideologies, political thought, programmes and there can be issue-based differences. We will talk and find a way out,” he said.

Asked whether the BJP would declare its prime ministerial candidate before elections as demanded by JD(U), he said all things could not be made public at this juncture.

Mr. Singh defended Mr. Modi, saying he was “popular,” but stopped short of endorsing him as the party’s candidate for the top job taking the standard line that the party’s central parliamentary board would take a decision.

He, however, asserted that Mr. Modi could not have been responsible for the 2002 riots as no Chief Minister could provoke “law and order situation or anarchy in his State.”

“The BJP is the most secular party in which no communal person can survive. The most communal is the Congress ,” he said.

Without taking names, he recalled the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi's comment on the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 that followed Indira Gandhi's assassination. “After the Hindu-Sikh riots, a senior leader who is no more and I will not name him, said ‘when big trees fall, the earth shakes.’”

On Mr. Modi's comment after the Godhra riots that “every action has a reaction,” the BJP chief said the comment had not been verified.

Asked why Mr. Modi was being allowed to become larger than the party, he said, “If the media asks only about one person, what can be done?”

Mr. Modi, he said, had never asked himself to be projected as PM candidate and was elevated to the party’s parliamentary board in preference to other “well-performing” BJP Chief Ministers only because he was the “senior-most” and “there was only one vacancy.” Asked whether he himself was in the PM race, he said, “If I become a candidate, then who will decide?”

  • ‘We would never want any ally to leave... We will talk and find a way out’

  • BJP is the most secular party and Congress the most communal, he says