While reiterating that it would not accept Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, the BJP’s junior ally JD(U), on Saturday showed signs of softening its stand on the deadline for naming BJP’s PM candidate.
A mellowed JD(U) would now merely “suggest to the BJP to declare its PM candidate by the year-end”, revealed senior JD(U) leaders. The party, which began its two-day national meet in Delhi on Saturday, will bring this issue in its political resolution on Sunday.
Asked whether the party would steer clear of setting a deadline for the BJP to declare its PM candidate, party general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP K C Tyagi, said: “Yes, we can give time. The BJP, after all, is a friendly party and pressure tactics is not used against friendly parties.” However, it expressed support for L K Advani’s name for the PM post. “We have in the past contested Lok Sabha elections under his leadership. How can we say that it was a mistake,” asked Tyagi.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met BJP chief Rajnath Singh and senior party leader Arun Jaitley in the capital on Saturday.
The apparent mellowing down on the deadline was a result of back-channel talks between Rajnath and JD(U) leaders including Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav.
Nitish Kumar, in his address to delegates, reiterated that there would be “no compromise on principles”. This was a euphemism that the party would never accept Modi’s name for the top job in the country, and if the BJP eventually zeroes in on Modi’s name, they would leave the alliance.
Asked if Modi would be acceptable to them, Tyagi shot back: “Has the BJP Parliamentary Party come out with Modi’s name? Has Rajnath Singh said ‘yes’ to his name?”
Tyagi then said that Modi “had failed to discharge his Constitutional duties as Chief Minister during the 2002 riots”.
The JD(U) also hit out at the Congress, saying the party had no right to speak about Modi as its own balance sheet showed that it had reneged on its responsibilities during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. It said there was no question of its alliance with the Congress.