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The fragile peace in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was again disturbed when Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray said Sushma Swaraj, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, was the only deserving candidate for prime ministership.
This is the first time a crucial NDA ally has named its choice for prime ministerial candidate from the alliance. Senior leader L K Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi were the two names that had been on the forefront.
The Maharashtra-based Sena is the oldest and the most trusted ally of the principal Opposition party.
“I have said this many times. Sushma Swaraj would be a great choice for PM’s post. She is a deserving, intelligent woman. She would deliver a great performance,” said Thackeray, in his interview to party mouthpiece Saamna.
Thackeray is not the only one within NDA who has opposed the name of Modi as the party’s candidate in the prime ministerial race.
Recently, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had categorically said NDA’s prime ministerial candidate should be a secular person. Kumar is a critic of Modi and had also stopped Modi from entering Bihar for campaigning during the Assembly elections in the state.
Sensing an opportunity to snub Modi, NDA convener and chief of the Janata Dal (United), Sharad Yadav, said the prime ministerial candidate would be chosen after discussions within NDA and the decision will not be taken solely by BJP.
Janata Dal (United) is vehemently opposing Modi’s prime ministerial ambitions. During a meeting between Advani and Sharad Yadav, the former leader had said the BJP will consult all its allies before announcing the name of its prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
Meanwhile, the Sena chief has also declared all is not well in the alliance with the BJP and declined to describe the alliance as strong.
“Now, I can’t use the word strong. Thinking has changed, there are personal animosities, animosities between the parties. NDA of the past had a leader like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, now there is no such leadership. But I am talking about NDA, not BJP,” he said in the interview.
Thackeray also expressed his displeasure on the recent statement made by L K Advani that the next prime minister could be a non-Congress, non-BJP leader.
The statements of Advani were also not welcomed within the BJP; as senior leaders felt such comments would affect the morale of the cadre.
“I find it difficult to say anything beyond (what he said). What should one expect from these people? Why did he say so?” Thackeray questioned.