New Delhi: Adding pressure on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shiv Sena on Wednesday said the decision on National Democratic Alliance (NDA)'s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections should be taken soon.
The Shiv Sena is a key partner of the BJP-led NDA.
With Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi tipped to be a strong contender to emerge as BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the next year's polls, the Shiv Sena said the final call will be taken by the NDA.
In an apparent reference to Modi, the editorial in Shiv Sena's mouthpiece 'Saamna' said: "Old friends can be separated over a wrong candidate."
"While Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi may be one of the PM candidates, the BJP must note that the NDA is going to take the final decision on the matter," it said.
The party said an NDA meeting should be called soon to take a decision on the issue.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) on Sunday made a veiled attack on the BJP on projection of Modi as the Prime Minister.
Key NDA partner, the JD-U, on the final day of its two-day national executive meeting in New Delhi on Sunday, passed a resolution setting a deadline for big constituent BJP to name its prime ministerial candidate by the end of 2013 for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls while party leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made it clear that they would not accept a leader (read Modi) who is not acceptable to the entire nation.
Sena warns of 'Mahabharat' in NDA on PM choice
After JD(U), BJP's oldest ally Shiv Sena sought to put pressure on the party seeking a meeting of the NDA to decide on the name of a prime ministerial candidate, days after Nitish Kumar fired his salvos against Narendra Modi.
Comparing NDA constituents to horses of Arjun's chariot, Shiv Sena, which has its own axe to grind against Modi for his warm relations with its rival Raj Thackeray, cautioned that BJP should take the allies into confidence on the prime ministerial choice or else there could be a "Mahabharat" (squabble).
"BJP has the right to name its PM candidate but it cannot do so on its own steam. This (NDA) is Arjuna's chariot and has many horses (allies).
"Every horse is important. Or else, there will be a different Mahabharat and the chariot wheel will get stuck," the Shiv Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
With the chasm between BJP and JD(U) widening over Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial nominee, the Sena also insisted on convening a meeting of the Opposition alliance to end the prevailing "confusion".
"On the one hand, those in UPA are speaking in one voice. They may have one thing in their minds and another on their lips, but as of now, all are behind Manmohan the Puppet.
"However, in NDA, everyone is beating his own trumpet and breaking people's eardrums. This is not a good picture," it said.
"There is a lot of confusion...there are several wannabes. There are squabbles within the NDA on the PM candidate issue. Rajnath Singh, L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj should comment on this and the confusion should be cleared by convening a meeting of the NDA at the earliest," Sena, BJP's oldest ally, said.
The 'Saamna' editorial came days after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made clear his strong opposition to projecting Modi as prime ministerial candidate.
JD(U) has said that BJP should declare its prime ministerial candidate having "secular credibility beyond doubt" for the next general elections.
Later, Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut said he had requested JD(U) president and NDA convenor Sharad Yadav to call a meeting of the alliance to sort out the issue.
"I have requested Sharad Yadav to call a meeting of the NDA to discuss the issue. All allies, including Nitish Kumar, should be present and a final decision taken," he said.
Responding to the editorial, BJP president Rajnath Singh said he had not yet seen it. "They (Sena and JD-U) are our old allies. We will discuss things when necessary," he told TV news channels.
Don't want any ally to leave NDA: BJP
The BJP does not want any ally to leave the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), party president Rajnath Singh said Wednesday as speculation mounted over the future of its ties with the Janata Dal-United (JD-U).
"This crisis is unfortunate. We would never want any ally to leave. Allies have different ideologies. There can be issue-based differences," Singh told journalists at the Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC) here.
Differences between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and JD-U over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's possible candidature as prime minister are out in the open. Though the BJP has not made any official announcement about its prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha polls, Modi is widely perceived to be the party's man for the top job.
"We will talk to the JD-U and sort issues," Singh said.
BJP spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain meanwhile said the BJP and JD-U were united for the "10 crore people of Bihar" and the ties won't snap.
"Our alliance is for the welfare of 10 crore people of Bihar and the mandate has been given to BJP and JD-U jointly. We will keep working together for the people of Bihar even though our philosophies are different," Hussain told reporters.
He added: "The Congress is trying to divert the attention from the issue of corruption and price rise by igniting the communal-secular debate, but we will not let it happen. We will even approach parties which have different ideologies than ours and try to get them on the same front because they are also tired of corruption and inflation."
Hussain said the party was looking for more alliance partners, but refused to name any parties.
"We are the biggest partner of the NDA. We have to find more allies, and we will not let the old allies go," he said.
JD-U president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has made the party's position clear and said it would only back a secular person as prime minister. It has also demanded that the BJP declare its candidate by December.
The Shiv Sena also echoed the JD-U position Wednesday and said that the BJP must clarify its stance on the issue.
In a strongly-worded editorial in the party mouthpiece "Saamna", Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the BJP had the right to nominate its candidate for prime minister but it could not take a unilateral decision on the issue.
Keeping NDA intact prime concern for BJP: Rajnath
Rajnath said keeping the NDA coalition intact 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 the post-Godhra 2002 riots in Gujarat - is not acceptable as the Prime Ministerial candidate, Shiv Sena too has 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.
Singh maintained that allies have their "own ideology, political thought, programmes and principles" which may differ from that of the 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.