New Delhi : Amid signs of uneasiness in the party over Janata Dal-United’s divergent stand in the presidential polls and remarks of its leaders on NDA’s prime ministerial choice for next general elections, BJP president Nitin Gadkari Monday asked party functionaries and other friends in NDA to exercise restraint in their statements on the coalition.
Sources said Gadkari’s statement came in the backdrop of party leader Balbir Punj making a veiled reference to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s remarks and said his party had not not outsourced the responsibility of declaring and defining, who is secular. Punj had also said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was definitely a first-class prime minister material and was “as secular as anyone can be.”
JD-U President Sharad Yadav, who had earlier asked his own party leaders not to speak without authorisation, was irked by Punj’s remarks and took up the matter with Gadkari.
In his statement, Gadkari said BJP was of the opinion that notwithstanding the divergence of opinion in NDA on the issue of the Presidential election, NDA has “performed a historic role and shall continue to do so in order to navigate the country out of its present problems”.
“Each constituent of the NDA mutually respects the stand taken by other coalition partners. I request all the party functionaries and other friends in NDA to exercise restraint while speaking on NDA-related issues,” Gadkari said.
The rift between JD-U and BJP started with the presidential elections. While the BJP was intent on a contest, the JD-U did not share its enthusiasm.
The chasm widened after Nitish Kumar made a veiled reference to Modi and said NDA’s prime ministerial candidate should be of liberal frame of mind and secular credentials.¿
Another JD-U leaders Shivanand Tewari had irked the BJP by justifying economic management of the United Progressive Alliance government.
Yadav had sought to arrest the damage over Tiwari’s remarks by asserting that the party spokesperson should consult him or Nitish Kumar before making statements.
He had also maintained that support of the JD(U) to UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee was no indication of any rift in the NDA.