New Delhi: A day after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar slammed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and asked the BJP to name its prime ministerial candidate by the year-end, the BJP on Monday denied any rift in their alliance.
"The JD-U is a valuable alliance partner of BJP. The party (JD-U) passed a resolution yesterday (Sunday), and the BJP also issued a statement in that respect. That should rest the matter," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told IANS.
This comes even as the party spokesperson had expressed disappointment over Nitish Kumar`s comments on Modi.
"It is unfortunate if they concentrate their energies on our chief ministers and dilute the focus of removing the UPA. The BJP will continue its determined effort in this direction. We reject all unfounded inferences against Narendra Modi," said Sitharaman, while issuing a statement in defence of Modi Sunday evening.
Denying that there was any fissure in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), she said the two parties shared the same interests and both were clear in their stand against corruption and the UPA.
"There are common factors we cherish, be it anti-corruption or anti-UPA. There is also a continuous interaction between the two parties. The JD-U president has met with Rajnath (Singh) and (Arun) Jaitley too," she said.
In a most unambiguous public expression of opposition within the BJP-led NDA to Modi, the JD-U had set a December deadline for the BJP to name its prime ministerial candidate.
Also, in an apparent dig at Modi, Nitish Kumar, while addressing delegates at the two-day JD-U national executive meet in Delhi Sunday, said his party would never give up on secularism.
He said his party`s alliance with the BJP - the two together run the Bihar government - could continue only if "some fundamental issues" were made clear.
Indicating an unease in the alliance over the issue, BJP leaders from Bihar will meet party chief Rajnath Singh April 18 in Delhi.
Earlier, Rajnath Singh had also come out in defence of Modi, terming him as the party`s most popular leader. He, however, refrained from naming Modi as the party`s prime ministerial candidate.
"Narendra Modi is the most popular BJP leader as of now. I cannot say who will be the PM candidate," Rajnath Singh said.