New Delhi: Janata Dal (United), the key ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has clearly said that it will not accept Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, while the BJP says that the party will decide its leader at the right time and not in TV studios.
Modi ended his 3-day fast to promote communal harmony yesterday evening, but the debate rages on whether he will be able to see himself as a future prime minister. The JD(U) has made it clear on a TV show India at 9 hosted by Rajdeep Sardesai that there is no way Modi can ever be accepted for the top job. “We will not accept Modi as a prime ministerial candidate,” said Ali Anwar, JD(U) leader.
When the program host asked is Modi now first among equals, BJP senior leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said that he is a very tall leader, but the party will take a call. We are not in a position where just one prince is waiting to become the prime minister.
Congress leader Salman Khurshid said,”Modi’s fast has not been able to address the agony of riot victims.”
Meanwhile, Modi’s key rival, senior Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela broke his counter-fast this morning.
Leaders from the state Congress party sat on a fast from Saturday to counter Narendra Modi’s programme and to promote “non-violence.” They called Modi’s agitation a five-star fast and a political gimmick. Vaghela, a former chief minister, feels that Modi wasted public money through his fast and is cheating the people of Gujarat.
Despite the JD(U)’s concerns, the fast is being seen as an attempt to pitchfork the Gujarat Chief Minister onto the national stage.
As he ended his fast on Monday, in his closing address, Modi stressed his politics does not involve appeasing any one community.
The end of the fast was designed to be politically correct and so every religion had a face as Modi broke his fast. Observers say that the ‘Sadbhavna’ fast is an attempt by Modi to create an inclusive image at the national level.
“My government does nothing for minority and nothing for majority. My government only does for six crore Gujaratis,” said Modi. But despite his denials the fast has renewed the focus on the race to be prime ministerial candidate in the BJP.
Sevevral BJP leaders like Venkiah Naidu called him prime minister material on the stage. And despite their discomfort, the top line of the BJP had to mark its presence. If Arun Jaitely and Advani arrived at the start of the fast, it was Sushma swaraj who came to end it. The leader of opposition is an aspirant to be the BJP’s face in 2014 general elections.
“If Advani praises him it is out of love, if I praise him it is out of duty. But when rivals like Mehbooba Mufti praise him, it is great,” she said.
But outside the fast venue, Modi’s adversaries continued their offensive. Activist Teesta Setalvad read the holy Quran with riot victims as a mark of protest against Modi.