New Delhi, Jun 21: BJP today dismissed as “irrelevant and unfortunate” Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's objection to his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi becoming NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014 general elections but said that the “mature” coalition is not under any threat.
“It is an irrelevant and unfortunate debate,” Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said in reply to a question on Kumar's comments against Modi. She maintained that the focus at present is Presidential poll and the issue of Prime Ministerial candidate has no immediate relevance.
However, BJP accepted that it had not been able to convince ally JD(U) on supporting P A Sangma in the Presidential election. Regretting this, Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley hoped this was a “one off” case of fissures in NDA ranks and would not affect the coalition. “NDA is a mature alliance. There is no question of NDA breaking up,” Swaraj said.
Despite several serious attempts by BJP to persuade JD(U), the ally stuck to its stand of supporting UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee. Top BJP leaders had talked to JD(U) President Sharad Yadav and the Bihar Chief Minister on the issue.
BJP leaders, preferring anonymity, said they have not been able to understand the logic behind JD(U)'s decision. JD(U) is keeping its options open ahead of the 2014 elections and, hence, the decision to support Mukherjee, political observers felt.
Kumar had ruled out Modi, without naming him, as NDA's PM candidate when he said the person should have “secular credentials”. He said the candidate should be acceptable to all NDA constituents.
On Tuesday, he had stressed that NDA should declare its Prime Ministerial candidate in advance, saying, “This leader should be acceptable to every constituent of the alliance. To me, the leader of the coalition should have secular credentials.”
Kumar has made known his unease with Narendra Modi a number of times earlier because of which the Gujarat Chief Minister was kept away from campaigning in Bihar during the last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.