NEW DELHI (TIP): The Janata Dal- United (JD-U) is expected to press for an early projection of the National Democratic Alliance’s prime ministerial candidate, with a party MP stating yesterday that it had laid down “principles” in the matter. The JD-U, which has strong reservations on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, is expected to clear its stance on the issue at its national executive and national convention meeting beginning here Saturday. JD-U president Sharad Yadav, who is set to be re-elected to the post at the meeting, has been evading a pointed reply on whether the party would oppose the projection of Modi.
He has stated that the JD-U has never compromised on the issue of secularism. Party leaders said there was no restriction on discussing any issue and the signals about Modi’s growing clout in the BJP could figure in speeches at the JD-U meeting. They said the final line of the party on prime ministerial candidate would emerge from the meeting.
There has been some unease in the JD-U over the rise of Modi in the BJP and indications that he could emerge as the prime ministerial candidate of the main opposition party. JD-U leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also expressed grave reservations over Modi’s candidature on account of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which occurred under his watch. The JD-U is the largest constituent of the NDA after the BJP, with 20 members in the Lok Sabha.
The party leads the government in Bihar, with the BJP as its junior partner. Modi, in recent speeches, has indicated national ambitions, presenting Gujarat as a model for the rest of the country. Sources said that JD-U leaders were expected to demand a decision on the prime ministerial candidate to bring clarity on the issue.
They said the JDU could take a decision to part ways with the BJP if Modi is projected the prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. JD-U MP Ali Anwar Ansari Thursday said the party has laid down ‘principles’ on the issue of prime ministerial candidate. ‘We have laid down principles: The candidate should have secular credentials, be able to take everyone along, and should be a votary of the rights of backward states,’ Ansari said. He said the NDA would take a decision on its prime ministerial candidate, and the BJP, being its largest constituent, should propose a name. ‘The final decision will be taken at a meeting of NDA,’ he said. Ansari, who is the party’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha, said the constituents of the NDA would meet before an announcement of the prime ministerial candidate is made. JD-U leaders have said that their alliance with the BJP was working on a common national agenda.