SAD likely to back BJP’s PM choice

Vice-president Hamid Ansari with Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon at a meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on Monday. 	— PTI

Vice-president Hamid Ansari with Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon at a meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on Monday. — PTI

A known Advani loyalist and contender for the top post in the party, Ms Sushma Swaraj, however, was in no mood to speak her mind at this juncture on the issue of the prime ministerial candidate. “Whatever I feel, I will tell my party,” Ms Swaraj said when asked about Mr Advani being made the PM candidate.
Incidentally, the JD(U) had gone on record saying it was not against Mr L.K. Advani’s candidature to lead the NDA during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Meanwhile, if the JD(U) has put its ally BJP on notice over the “secular” PM candidate issue, the Akali Dal is likely to stand by the saffron forces.
Despite the apparent support, senior SAD leader and Punjab CM Prakash Singh Badal added a caveat. “We have no problem if NDA announces its prime ministerial candidate. But NDA will have to meet first before a final decision is taken.” Mr Badal said. However, his son, Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, made his support to the BJP clear. “BJP is the biggest NDA constituent, I feel it should choose the prime ministerial candidate. Whosoever it is, we are with them,” Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal said. Incidentally, unlike Bihar, communal issues do not dominate electoral politics in Punjab.
With the JD(U) sounding the alarm bell, speculation is rife that Modi supporters in the BJP are on the lookout for new allies for the forthcoming general election. It has already begun wooing its former ally, AIADMK. Sources said even the AIADMK has asked the BJP not to announce its PM candidate at this juncture.
However, the only problem the Advani camp might encounter is the opposition of its cadre and the RSS. The entire saffron cadre is rooting for Mr Modi. Top RSS functionaries, including chief Mohan Bhagwat, who was “not in Modi’s favour”, are also opposed to Mr Advani being named the PM candidate, sources said.
On Monday, coming out in support of the Gujarat CM, Bihar BJP leaders met party chief Rajnath Singh and wanted him to pull out its leaders from the Nitish Kumar government and snap ties with the JD(U). However, the BJP is of the view that if at all the alliance breaks, it should be initiated by the JD(U). The BJP feels that if the JD(U) snaps ties over the “secular” PM candidate issue, it would give the impression that the outfit was indulging in minority appeasement. Mr Singh also tried to play down the differences between his party and the JD(U) over Mr Modi’s candidature. Though he described the development as “unfortunate”, he said the “crisis will be resolved”. On his own prospects of becoming the PM candidate, Mr Singh said, “One cannot say anything.”
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said, “So far as any allegation, accusation against our chief minister (Modi) is concerned, we do not need Nitish Kumar’s certificate on the issue of secularism.”

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