New Delhi: Pledging secularism, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday said NDA`s prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls should be someone who can keep the country together.
Speaking on the second and the last day of the Janata Dal (United)`s two-day national executive meet here, Kumar took potshots at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Notably, Kumar has reservations over Modi`s candidature for prime ministership over the 2002 Gujarat riots that happened under his watch.
The PM should be secular, believe in inclusive growth and take backward states along, Kumar said.
In a resolution adopted earlier today, the party stated that NDA coalition`s prime ministerial candidate should have a secular image.
"It is up to the BJP to decide on a secular candidate who also looks out for the common man," said the party`s Bihar unit president Vashista Narayan Singh. The JD(U) has given the BJP time till December to declare a prime ministerial candidate.
Issuing a veiled threat to BJP over Modi`s much-speculated projection as its Prime Ministerial candidate, Kumar said attempts to bring `genetic modification` will bring about negative results and his party will take a decision if its voice is not heard.
Ruling himself out of the prime ministerial race, the senior JD(U) leader said he does not nurse any such "illusion" with such "little" strength of his party, but made it clear that he would prefer for the top job a leader who carries all sections of society together.
"We want to remain together. When did we say that we want to part ways? But when we want to stay together, there are some fundamental issues," Kumar said, making no bones about his reservations on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi without mentioning his name.
"Only one who can carry with him all the diverse sections of people can become the leader of the nation. This was Atal Bihari Vajpayee`s personality. Now, if there is an attempt to change the path, there is bound to be problems. The country does not run by mere projection. Some persons think they will create a wave and people will accept it," Kumar said.
In an apparent dig at Modi for his frequent reference to the Gujarat model of development, Kumar said many people accept it as development even when a developed state grows, and stressed that there is a need to see from where did a particular state starts its development march.
Citing the case of Bihar where the NDA alliance led by him is in power for more than seven years, Kumar said, "Why will we go for genetic modification when the crop is in pink of health? Negative results are bound to happen if one makes an attempt of genetic modification."
Party president Sharad Yadav, however, chose to go a bit soft on the issue making an impassioned plea to keep alliance intact.
Yadav, who was re-elected as JD(U) president for the third consecutive time, asked party leaders to desist from taking names but clearly pointed towards the "restlessness" in JD(U) on the issue of Modi and reminded "ideology is thicker than blood". Alluding to the "Rajdharma" comment made by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Modi after the post-Godhra riots, Kumar said while somebody could run one state in "this or that manner", it is difficult to govern the whole country like that.
"There is a need for Atal Bihari Vajpayee-like thinking to govern this country. Atalji always used to say follow your Rajdharma," he said, making clear that "if our view is ignored, then we will take a step...We want the train to be on track but if the train derails, we will decide according to the situation and time on what to do. Who has seen tomorrow?"
Kumar`s comments, which came a day after JD(U) vehemently denied having any truck with "enemy" Congress at the cost of "friend" BJP, are being interpreted in political circles as an attempt to position his party neutrally ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls if Modi is projected by BJP as its PM candidate.
"Compromises are made in politics but there are certain fundamental principles. Compromising with secularism to remain in power, no we will never do it. We cannot compromise with our basic principles," the Bihar Chief Minister said.
In the backdrop of Modi`s recent address at public forums drawing analogies of a Modi versus Rahul Gandhi battle for 2014, Kumar said some people can create a so-called wave.
"We have seen many such waves. The series of such waves keep happening in the country. We should not be over-affected by them. The country does not run by creating waves. People think that they will create an atmosphere and then people will accept them. This does not work," he said.
In a veiled reference to the political polarisation in the country after the Gujarat riots, Sharad Yadav said, "In 2004, Atalji asked how could I, too, lose elections, I told him you also know the reason".
Yadav had lost the election from Madhepura Lok Sabha seat in Bihar then to RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
While assuring the partymen that the "difficulties" that have cropped in within NDA in recent period will be sorted out, Yadav made it clear, "Our alliance is 17-years-old. We want to run this alliance." "Some difficulties have cropped up in between. This
sometimes lead to a feeling whether we have drifted away from our principles. What this restlessness is all about? This restlessness is about our principles. This restlessness is about our ideals," Yadav said.
He, however, added, "Many difficulties came in the alliance but we have surmounted them. We have a national agenda and have the commitment of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani to it. When we regularly interacted, why should we be restless?"
Yadav also reminded that the Bihar Chief Minister has a "longer association" than him with BJP amid speculation that Kumar was inching closer to Congress.
"One Dr (Ram Manohar) Lohia broke the hands and legs of Congress government. They did what nobody could do. The controversy which is on right now, I want to make it clear that we have no selfish interest in it.”
"But we have a tradition and nobody will forgive Nitish and Sharad and others sitting here. Based on our principles and practical aspects of politics, we walk as part of a coalition and its been 17 years running this coalition," he said.
Advising party leaders to "speak a bit less", Yadav said, "We have nothing to do with any particular person...This fight is only for principles...We should avoid taking names...There were many differences when Atalji and Advaniji were there. But they never said anything about us outside. Nor did we."
He also described as "peculiar person" party MP Sabir Ali, who had yesterday attacked Modi saying he was "not at all acceptable".
Highlighting the "inclusive" model of governance in Bihar, Kumar said, "We have bound the society together and not divided them. We have kept all sections of society together."
Striking a philosophic note about the realities of life and separation, Kumar said, "When life has no certainty, what certainty a chair has? If it has to go, then it has to go."
"After the train derails, we will have to take a decision, we will decide. Who has seen tomorrow," he said, adding "as we have tried to strengthen Bihar, we will also make efforts that the nation is strengthened."
(With PTI inputs)