The gloves came off entirely in the JD(U)s ongoing attacks on Narendra Modi today,with party spokespersons saying they would prefer walking out of the NDA and losing power in Bihar to backing the Gujarat chief minister as the NDAs prime ministerial candidate.
While Modi himself and other senior BJP leaders continued to be silent,Rajya Sabha member Balbir Punj said no one had the right to issue a fatwa on secularism,and the RSS wondered why a Hinduwadi could not be PM.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar whose call for a clean and secular prime ministerial candidate from the NDA last week triggered the spat (The Indian Express,June 15) said nothing today. JD(U) chief and NDA convener Sharad Yadav said,Nitish Kumar is a responsible person. If he has said something on which somebody else has said something,what is the need for me to paraphrase it further?
JD(U) national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Shivanand Tiwari said the BJP must realise that it could not hope to come to power by putting a fanatic face in front.
People who voted for BJP due to the liberal face of Vajpayee went away from it after the Gujarat riots,and the floating votes went to Congress because people do not accept fanatic politics, Tiwari said.
Those people in the BJP who want the party to come to power will have to realise that they cannot do so by putting a fanatic face in front.
He added,We will not compromise on our secularism,whether our government in Bihar stays or not. We are ready to lose power in Bihar and walk out of the NDA,but we can never accept Narendra Modi as prime minister. Forget his acceptability in the NDA,even Atal Bihari Vajpayee had told him about adhering to rajdharma after the Gujarat riots.
Another JD(U) national spokesperson Shakil Ahmed Khan told The Indian Express that being in the NDA did not oblige his party to accept Modi as prime minister.
Being part of the NDA and having an alliance with the BJP in Bihar had never meant that the JD(U) has accepted Narendra Modi as well. Anyone who takes the reins of the country must have secular image,which Modi does not.
Asked if the insistence on a secular PM was intended to put pressure on the BJP at a time when the partners seem to be divided on supporting Pranab Mukhejee as president,Khan said: Two things cannot be linked. We were provoked only because Modi seemed to be in a great rush to project himself as a PM candidate.
In Latur,speaking at a meeting of RSS workers,Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat attacked Nitish,saying his recent comments were intended to keep his votebank intact.
Nitish Kumar has said NDAs prime ministerial candidate should be secular. This shows political opportunism. He has made the statement so that his votebank remains intact, Bhagwat was quoted by PTI as having said. Hinduism,Bhagwat was reported to have said,was the religion of humanism,and India must have a prime minister who believes in that ideology.
In Delhi,RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said,To portray Hindutva as anti-secular is not correct. It is narrow-minded. Hindutva is the true synonym for secularism.
Khan retorted that the RSS,on which several riots commissions had passed adverse remarks,has no business to define secularism. If the JD(U) or Nitish Kumar cannot decide the NDAs prime ministerial candidate,the RSS too cannot dictate terms to us.
Shivanand Tiwari said there appeared to be two lines of thinking in the BJP today. One is that there is a need for a larger group like the NDA if it wants to return to power. The second line of thinking is to go back to its pre-1996 ideology. This is what is being reflected from the statement of the RSS chief, he said.
While there was no official reaction from the BJP either in Delhi or Patna,BJP Rajya Sabha member Balbir Punj said,This is a needless controversy. Nobody has the right in this country to pass a fatwa as to who is secular and who is not. People have their opinions.
(With PTI inputs)