New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that his party was in no hurry to announce or declare its choice for prime ministerial candidate.
Rubbishing suggestions that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is the BJP``s choice for running for the post of prime minister in the 2014 general elections, Singh said: "The NDA will meet at an appropriate time to decide on that (PM candidate)."
Singh said any decision on whom to project or whether to project anybody at all will be taken by the BJP``s Parliamentary Board, the party`s highest decision-making body.
"In our party there is no race and nobody makes a claim either for chief minister or for prime minister," he said.
The BJP president also ruled out suggestions that his party was under pressure from key ally -- the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), especially in the wake of the latter pressing the NDA to declare its prime ministerial candidate by December, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls expected around May next year.
The JD(U) is on record as saying that it would not be in favour of Modi being declared as the prime ministerial candidate, given his questionable secular credentials.
"These are suggestions by our allies. We will look into all these issues and decide what to do," Singh said when asked about JD(U)`s strident demand and Shiv Sena`s clamour for calling an NDA meeting to thrash the issue.
Shiv Sena, which does not share good vibes with Modi in view of his perceived proximity to Sena rival Raj Thackeray, has also asked the BJP to declare its candidate.
"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 `Saamna`.
The party also asked NDA convener and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav to call an early meeting of the alliance to decide on the PM choice.
Singh refused to share the JD(U) view that Modi is not ‘secular’ and sought to downplay Kumar`s attack on Modi last Sunday.
Asked about Kumar`s attack, he said "JD(U) is an ally of BJP. Allies have their own thoughts, ideology and programmes. If these were the same (as that of BJP), then they would not be a different party."
Insisting that Modi is secular like every other leader and cadre of BJP, Rajnath Singh said Gujarat has seen development which is inclusive and without any discrimination under his chief ministership.
He described the war of words between BJP and JD(U) in the last few days as an unfortunate episode.
To questions on the possibility of a split in the alliance on Modi issue, Singh said BJP would not like to break the alliance with JD(U) and will hold talks with the ally.
Seeking to justify his remarks that Modi is secular, the BJP chief said Gujarat has "seen no riots except the unfortunate one of 2002" during his 12-year rule.
"Modi has also said that 2002 riots were unfortunate. We all agree," Singh said.
He went on to add, "If, on the basis of one unfortunate riot, Modi is held guilty, then is Congress not guilty for 1984 anti-Sikh riots? There have been so many riots under Samajwadi Party in UP, is Samajwadi Party not guilty then?"
Insisting that BJP does not indulge in "sectarian politics," he launched an attack on Congress, saying it is the biggest communal party of the country.