Another dissident voice in the BJP, Ram Jethmalani, declared his support for Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate on Tuesday, a day after senior party leader Yashwant Sinha made the demand on Monday.
The BJP is embarrassed by the vocal support for Modi emerging from individuals who are not part of the party’s top leadership. The BJP brass is silent at the hullabaloo, but the party cannot hope to stay in the comfort zone too long. The Shiv Sena and the Janata Dal (United) may force it to take a stand before the leaders of the party are ready to take the call.
The Shiv Sena has reiterated the late Bal Thackeray’s opinion that Sushma Swaraj would be an ideal prime ministerial candidate. Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who had last month said that Modi is a capable leader and that the Sena would not have any objections if the BJP names him its prime ministerial candidate, retraced his steps on Tuesday. He said Swaraj would be an ideal PM candidate because that is what Bal Thackeray had said.
“(Sena president) Uddhav Thackeray feels the NDA must discuss this (the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA),” said Raut. “Balasaheb has declared Sushma Swaraj as the right candidate for the prime minister’s post. Further decisions will be taken by Uddhav Thackeray,” he added.
“It will be right to declare the name now. It is necessary (for the people) to know under whose leadership we will fight (the polls),” Raut, who is also the executive editor of the party mouthpiece Saamna, told DNA.
“Yashwant Sinha is a BJP leader and it is the BJP’s question as to whose name they want to push (for the prime minister’s post). The NDA must discuss this as the issue is important. A meeting of the NDA must be called,” he said.
In his characteristic bombast, Jethmalani said Modi was 100 per cent secular according to his (Jethmalani’s) definition of secularism and that false cases were relating to 2002 anti-Muslim riots were foisted against him. Jethmalani also expressed confidence that JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav would not oppose Modi’s candidature.