New Delhi: Not impressed by his "secular" pitch, Congress on Monday ridiculed Nitish Kumar for his anti-Narendra Modi rhetoric saying the controversy over NDA`s prime ministerial candidate was a "fixed match" between BJP and JDU.
At the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Rashid Alvi evaded questions on whether Congress will welcome JDU if the latter walked out of NDA saying, "We will see when it happens."
In a dig at JDU for its demand from BJP to announce before Lok Sabha elections its prime ministerial candidate with "secular credibility" and a "thinking like Vajpyee, senior Congress leader from Bihar Shakeel Ahmed said, "We are at a loss to understand Nitish Kumar`s logic that Modi is communal and L K Advani is secular."
Though the senior leadership of Congress generally refrains from attacking Vajpayee, Ahmed insisted "Modi is only a symptom of the disease of communalism, which was initiated by Advani and Vajpayee in the politics of independent India."
He said that Kumar "very conveniently forgets" the statement of Vajpyee within a fortnight in Goa on the Gujarat episode that "what was happening in Gujarat was a manifestation of nationalist sentiments".
At the AICC briefing, Alvi refused to give a direct answer when asked whether Congress considers Kumar secular, pointing out that JDU is an ally of the NDA and Kumar heads a government in alliance with the BJP in Bihar.
"People will decide, who is secular and who is not. People will decide whether he (Kumar) is secular or not. He is running a government with the help of BJP," he said.
There is a view in the party that JDU may eventually stick to NDA because Kumar`s "rhetoric" on secularism is more to do with the prime ministerial race within NDA.
"Bihar BJP ministers are saying our chief minister is talking rubbish. But neither ministers are resigning nor does the chief minister dismissing them. This is a fixed match," Ahmed, who was speaking separately, said responding to the attack on Kumar by some BJP ministers of the state.
Ahmed said it was part of the BJP or in a way NDA`s strategy to project two kinds of leadership one supposedly representing the hardcore Hindutva and the other a so-called liberal face.
"Earlier Vajpayee was the so-called liberal face and Advani was the hardliner. Now Modi is their hardliner and Advani is the liberal face.
"This is all BJP`s strategy. When Advani will become the PM candidate of the BJP, Kumar will claim credit in Bihar for stopping the march of Narendra Modi," he said.
Ahmed said at the height of the post Godhra controversy it was widely reported that while Vajpayee wanted to remove Modi, Advani backed the Gujarat chief minister.
Alvi termed it a "very important question" adding "only Nitish Kumar can answer it" when asked why Kumar, who was Railway Minister in the NDA government in 2002, did not oppose Modi when the post-Godhra riots happened in Gujarat.
He also avoided a question on whom will Congress fight in Bihar in 2014 Lok Sabha elections-- Lalu Prasad`s RJD or Nitish Kumar`s JDU.
"Congress will consider the issue when any party will express its willingness to join the UPA," was his response when asked about the possibility of alliance with NDA.
"They (Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav) are in the NDA. It is their problem if they want to stay there or not or which leader of NDA they consider and which they do not. JDU is part of NDA. How can anybody comment now about whether they will join hands with Congress or not," Alvi asked.
Seeking to keep a distance from the PM candidate controversy within the NDA after JDU virtually vetoing Modi, the Congress spokesperson said," We do not peep into others` houses. We are not interested on what issues there are fighting or whether they are fighting or not."