New Delhi: At a time when the BJP is engaged in an intense turf war within itself and with allies over the choice of Narendra Modi as the PM candidate in 2014, known pro-Modi voice Ram Jethmalani upped the stakes once gain on Tuesday by declaring that the Gujarat Chief Minister is 100% secular.
“I stand by Modi as my choice for the PM. Modi in my definition of secularism is 100% secular,” Jethmalani said.
The noted lawyer known for his frank views – even at the cost of causing heartburn to the powerful Delhi-based leaders of the BJP – said that the nation's mood is in favour of Narendra Modi.
However, he refused to comment on Bal Thackeray's support for Sushma Swaraj as the best choice for Prime Minister. His silence added weight as it came just hours after the Shiv Sena’s vote for Swaraj was once again made clear by senior party leader Sanjay Raut.
Jethmalani’s assertion and Raut’s stand against Modi are important as they come just a day after senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha set the cat among the pigeons by demanding that Modi be made the PM candidate, notwithstanding the opposition from allies like the JD(U).
The present round of churning in the party began after Nitin Gadkari was unceremoniously dumped as party president over graft charges and the pressure tactics employed by ‘Modi for PM’ coterie in the party.
Rajnath Singh was chosen as the next chief as he appears to be the safest bet for the RSS and other leaders who are unsure of the influence they will retain if Modi was to take centre-stage at this juncture.
However, the man himself, Narendra Modi, has made it clear that ‘he is ready for a bigger role in the party’, setting stage for a battle royale in the run up to a possible Modi Vs Rahul fight in 2014.
First Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 13:32