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BJP joins Bhagwat, pulls up Nitish for 'secular PM' remarks

June 20, 2012 - New Delhi

With RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat backing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate and apparently disagreeing with the remarks made Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also echoed similar sentiments on Wednesday, saying the party does not need to take certificate on secularism from anyone

"I want to make it clear that we have not given authority to anybody to give certificates of secularism to individual leaders in the BJP. All the leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party right from Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Narendra Modi are bound by the manifesto, policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party and also of the NDA," said senior BJP leader Balbir Punj.

"I want to remind the country that Nitish Kumar was part of the NDA Government in 2002 and he continued to be till 2004, then the Gujarat riots happened and now that is history," he added.

Earlier today, Mohan Bhagwat came out in full support of Modi, as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate and took Nitish Kumar to task over his recent comments that the NDA's prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections should be 'secular and liberal'.

Emphasizing that the country should have a Prime Minister who propounds Hindutva, Bhagwat said: "To keep alive the Hindutva ideology, the Hindu samaaj should come together. And the country should have a Prime Minister who believes in that ideology or propounds that view."

Nitish Kumar had earlier on Tuesday described his earlier comment that the NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate should be somebody with 'secular credentials' as golden words that could not be repeated.

"There is no need for me to give an interview here again. Listen one thing 'golden words are not repeated'," Kumar told media in Patna.

Seeking to rest all speculation, Kumar had earlier in an interview to a national daily asserted that he is not in the prime ministerial race. However, without taking names, he has also made it clear that JD (U) will not accept the leadership of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

He insisted that the NDA should name its Prime Ministerial candidate before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the candidate must have secular credentials and a liberal frame of mind.

"NDA should declare its candidate in advance. This leader should be acceptable to every constituent of the alliance. To me, the leader of the coalition should have secular credentials. It should be someone who has absolute faith in democratic values," he said.

"In a multi-religious and multi-lingual country like ours, the leader should not have rough edges in his personality. An alliance can win the confidence of the people only if the leader is seen as accommodating," he added.

Nitish Kumar's candid comments appear to be aimed at setting the rules of the game before the NDA starts to mull over the strategy to take on the UPA in 2014.

The latest war-of-words seems to have been sparked off by Modi's recent comments on Bihar.

Speaking at a public rally in Rajkot, Modi had reportedly said, " Bihar, at one point of time, was a political and spiritual leader of the country, but it slipped into socio-economical backwardness ever since the casteist leadership took centrestage."


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