Nitish Kumar's JD(U) talks tough on Narendra Modi, likely to ask for secular PM candidate

Nitish Kumar's JD(U) talks tough on Narendra Modi, likely to ask for secular PM candidate
New Delhi:  It is the final day today of the Janata Dal (United)'s two-day national executive meet in the capital. Sources in the party say a political resolution which is likely to be passed is expected to reiterate the JD(U)'s position that the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA coalition should be a person with a secular image, an indirect snub to Narendra Modi and alliance partner, the BJP.

The JD(U) has been firm it cannot accept Mr Modi as the prime ministerial nominee for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which is fronted by the BJP.

JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi was yesterday unsparing in his criticism of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the riots of 2002 in which 1200 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. "He (Mr Modi) was unable to deal with the aftermath of the riots as he should have," he said.

The JD(U), however, stopped short of issuing an ultimatum to its 17 year old alliance partner.

"The BJP is our friend. As friends, we don't bargain or put pressure. We will wait for the BJP to announce their candidate. Why comment in anticipation?" Mr Tyagi said.

Late in the evening, BJP chief Rajnath Singh and senior party leader Arun Jaitley met JD(U) powerhouse Nitish Kumar to see if their differences can be resolved.

"The JD(U) is our ally. If there are problems we will sit and talk to them... in a democracy people make decisions, let us sit and discuss issues with them," said BJP President Rajnath Singh.

While Mr Tyagi said Mr Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, was not in the race to be a prime ministerial nominee, the venue of JD(U)'s national executive had massive posters of him and Sharad Yadav, taking on Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh with the heading - "2nd Mahabarath War 2014." The posters had no BJP leader.

Since his third election win in Gujarat, many in the BJP feel Mr Modi is the party's best bet for the 2014 elections. But to Mr Kumar, who relies on the 15 per cent Muslim population in Bihar for electoral support, the Gujarat Chief Minister is unacceptable.

The JD(U)'s political resolution will also make the demand for special status for Bihar. The BJP would be keenly watching.

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