Choosing to ignore other potential names, including Gujarat chief minister and Hindutva poster boy Narendra Modi and fellow Maharashtrian Nitin Gadkari, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has pitched for Sushma Swaraj as the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) prime ministerial nominee in the 2014 polls.
“At least today, there is only one intelligent and brilliant person. And that is Sushma Swaraj. She will be a superb choice for the prime minister’s post. She is deserving, (and) an intelligent lady. She will work very well,” the Shiv Sena chief said in an interview in the party mouthpiece Saamna on Sunday.
Thackeray, who is the editor of Saamna, was interviewed by the newspaper’s executive editor and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut.
Incidentally, Swaraj who was in the city on September 2 had met Thackeray in what was described as a “courtesy call.”
A Shiv Sena MP said Thackeray may have floated Swaraj’s name as Modi espoused the same aggressive Hindutva that the Sena was known for and hence, was seen as competing for the same political space. “Two Hindu Hriday Samrats (Kings of Hindu hearts) will not do,” he said, pointing to the title by which both Thackeray and Modi are addressed by their supporters.
“In order to reduce the conundrum over Modi’s name as a potential candidate, it was necessary to put forward another name… What may happen in 2014 will be clear only then,” he added.
“Swaraj has been in national politics for a long time. She is also the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, and according to precedent, a person on this post is seen as the future prime minister,” said another Sena MP.
In the interview, Thackeray questioned why senior BJP leader LK Advani’s blog had expressed the likelihood of a non-Congress, non-BJP prime minister coming to power at the centre in 2014.
“There are differences in parties. Earlier, the NDA had an accommodating leadership like (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee Where is it today?” said Thackeray.
Thackeray also attacked Anna Hazare and his anti-corruption agitation and called it a “media phenomenon.”
“In those who crowd around to support you… ask those in the gathered crowd, how many people voted in return for money,” he said.
Pointing to Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi becoming aggressive against the opposition, Thackeray warned that in case another dispensation came to power, it could prove troublesome to her.