New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) The Janata Dal-United began a meeting here Saturday amid signals that the party may not immediately press the BJP to declare a prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections, while maintaining its reservations over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Hours after the meeting began, JD-U spokesperson K.C. Tyagi told reporters that his party could give the BJP time to declare the prime ministerial candidate.
Another party leader, Shivanand Tiwari, said the party had not discussed Modi’s possible candidature. “Why would Modi be discussed” he asked while speaking to reporters.
While the JD-U national executive met Saturday, the national convention will take place Sunday.
Sources said that there had been back channel talks between the senior BJP and JD-U leaders as tensions were simmering over the issue of prime ministerial candidate.
They said BJP president Rajnath Singh has spoken to JD-U president Sharad Yadav and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on the issue.
JD-U sources said the party was also framing its political resolution, to be taken up Sunday.
Speculation was rife in political circles that the JD-U would press for an early decision on the prime ministerial candidate, given the party’s reservations to projecting Modi for the post.
JD-U sources asserted that the party was working, in alliance with the BJP, on a common national agenda, and would not compromise on the principle of secularism.
Sources had indicated that the JD-U could decide to part ways with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) if Modi is projected as prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Nitish Kumar has, on more than one occasion, expressed grave reservations over Modi’s candidature for prime ministership, given his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
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.
Party sources said the meeting will see resolutions passed on the present political scenario and on economic and foreign policy.
The party will also discuss organisational matters and electoral challenges, including the polls to five state assemblies and the Lok Sabha in 2014.
JD-U has been consistently demanding special category status for Bihar and has indicated that its decision to lend support to other political outfits after the 2014 polls would hinge on this issue.
JD-U MP Ali Anwar Ansari has said that the party has “principles” on the issue of prime ministerial candidate: The person chosen should have secular credentials, be able to take everyone along, and should be a votary of the rights of backward states.
Ansari said the NDA would collectively decide on its prime minister choice, and the BJP, being the largest constituent of the alliance, should propose a name.