LK Advani's blog on the possible results of the 2014 elections, released on Sunday, has created a perfect political storm within the alliance his party leads, the NDA. Mr Advani wrote that, "A non-Congress, non-BJP Prime Minister heading a government supported by one of these two principal parties is feasible.This has happened in the past also."
While BJP partners like the Shiv Sena have taken umbrage, another
ally says Mr Advani's assessment is "impeccable." That loaded thumbs-up
comes from the Janata Dal (United), whose leader Nitish Kumar is the
chief minister of Bihar. "Nitish Kumar is an eligible candidate for
prime minister," said his party's Shivanand Tiwari, citing Mr Advani's
reference to the likelihood of the next prime minister emerging from
neither the Congress nor his own party's ranks. Mr Kumar has recently
said he is not in the running for prime minister but equally
forcefully, he said that he would have to split with the BJP if it picks
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as its candidate for PM. "Mr
Advani is the most experienced leader in the country...he knows the
pulse of the people," said Mr Tiwari. (Watch)
Another senior leader from the JD(U), Sharad Yadav said on Monday, "LK Advani is the NDA's working chairperson. But he has made a prediction... and I do not go by predictions. The UPA will go (after the elections) and the NDA will put up a fight."
The Shiv Sena has been less tolerant . In an editorial in the party's magazine today, chief Bal Thackeray has said Mr Advani's blog is inaccurate and demoralizing. Mr Thackeray angrily offered to give Mr Advani "a dose of morale and strength."
The BJP's relationship with both Nitish Kumar and the Sena has been fissured recently. Both allies supported Pranab Mukherjee for president instead of the BJP's candidate, PA Sangma. Mr Kumar's insistence of the need to steer clear of the Gujarat chief minister as the NDA's face of the 2014 elections has been recognised, said BJP president Nitin Gadkari last week. In an interview to NDTV, he said that he had explained to Mr Kumar that no decision has been made on Mr Modi as a contender for prime minister. He also said he expects the BJP's alliance with Mr Kumar to remain intact through 2014.