After spat with JD(U), BJP smokes peace pipe

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 17, 2013 17:11 hrs

After the war of words with JD(U), BJP on Wednesday spoke in a conciliatory tone, saying the "crisis" was "unfortunate" and expressed confidence that the alliance will remain intact.

In clear signs that BJP wants to continue its ties with ally JD-U, BJP President Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said keeping the NDA coalition in tact is a prime concern for his party and attempts will be made to resolve all issues with partners.

In an interaction with journalists at the Indian Women's Press Corps here, Singh praised and defended Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi but appeared to give primacy to keeping NDA partners together.

While JD-U has bluntly told BJP that Modi - who faces the taint of post-Godhra 2002 riots in Gujarat - is not acceptable as the Prime Ministerial candidate, Shiv Sena too expressed its reservations.

Insisting that BJP does not favour losing its allies, Singh said in reply to a question: "I believe that we (JD-U and BJP) will contest the 2014 elections together. Things have not become so bad. We will discuss the issues with them."

"The crisis (due to differences with JD-U) is unfortunate but BJP would not want an ally to go away. We will sit together and sort out the differences," he said.

BJP also sought to put behind the tit-for-tat with JD(U) over the Godhra incident that had taken place when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was the Railway Minister.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the incident was the "collective responsibility" of the Union Cabinet led by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"We had BJP government in Gujarat...the incident was unfortunate. There had been several debates on the issue. There is no need to reopen it again," Hussain told reporters.

He said while Nitish Kumar was on Tuesday replying to the Sabarmati Express train burning issue raised by RJD chief Lalu Prasad, the media had projected as if the Bihar Chief Minister was attacking BJP.

Singh maintained allies have their "own ideology, political thought, programmes and principles" which may differ from that of BJP.

Asked if BJP would declare its Prime Ministerial candidate before the elections as demanded by JD-U, Singh said all things cannot be made public at this juncture.

"But if BJP emerges as the single largest party, our effort will be that no crisis arises (between BJP and its allies). We will talk to them and make efforts to discuss all issues with them. We would not like to lose our allies or break the NDA," Singh said.

Though he gave the standard reply of BJP's Parliamentary Board having the final say on who should be the party's PM candidate, he appeared to give the impression that the party was ready to discuss the issue with its allies and look into their concerns.

Striking a similar tone, Hussain said "so far, we are together. Ummeed pe duniya kayam hai (the world is surviving on hope). The government is doing fine."

Shahnawaz Hussain's remarks on Sabarmati Express burning are at variance with another BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi's comments that the Bihar Chief Minister was the then the Railway Minister. She had implied that Kumar too was responsible for protection of passengers.

Before Lekhi's comments, another BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman had said "it is unfortunate if they concentrate their energies on our chief ministers and dilute the focus of removing UPA. BJP will continue its determined effort in this direction. We reject all unfounded inferences against Narendra Modi."

As compared to Lekhi and Sitharaman, Hussain sounded more toned down on BJP's stand towards Kumar and JD(U).

Replying to a volley of questions on the spat between BJP and JD(U) on clamour in BJP to project Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate, Hussain said "so far, we are together. Ummeed pe duniya kayam hai (there is always hope). The government is doing fine."

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