Before Narendra Modi can fulfil prime ministerial dream, JDU sets terms

With Narendra Modi's third consecutive victory adding to the clamour within the BJP to nominate him as party's prime ministerial candidate, BJP's ally JDU on Thursday said the saffron party will have to keep in mind their "sentiments" on this issue unless it has decided to go it alone in the next Lok Sabha elections.

"If the BJP decides to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections alone, it can decide its candidate singlehandedly. But if it wants to contest elections in alliance, it will have to keep the sentiments of its allies in mind," JDU leader in Rajya Sabha Shivanand Tiwari told The Indian Express in response to queries. "As of yesterday, the BJP leaders have been maintaining that they have several capable leaders (as the PM candidate). No single leader has been pointed out to us. And we are under the impression that it will be decided within the NDA partners and not the BJP alone," Tiwari said.

Asked what those JDU "sentiments" were, Tiwari said, "What we have to say on this issue, we have already communicated to the BJP. First, we have said that NDA's prime minister candidate should be announced before the Lok Sabha elections the way it had done in case of Vajpayee and even Advani. Second, BJP being the largest party in the alliance, we are in agreement of a BJP leader being named the candidate. Thirdly, we expect that the candidate should be a person who can take all sections of society along given the diverse social composition of Indian society."

Asked whether :secular credentials" were an essential part of the candidate's description, Tiwari said, "Please do not put words into my mouth. Nitishji has publicly said what he had to say on it. This (secular credentials) too is part of it."

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's reluctance to acknowledge Modi's supremacy within the NDA is no secret. He had prevailed on the BJP leaders to keep Modi off the BJP campaign during Bihar assembly elections in 2010. Given Bihar's 40 Lok Sabha seats, JDU's conditions will be a spanner in Modi's supporters' effort to get him nominated as the NDA's PM candidate for 2014.

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