Hope JD(U) won't desert NDA: BJP



New Delhi: Amid reports that NDA ally JD(U) is exerting pressure on BJP to declare a "secular" leader as its Prime Ministerial candidate, BJP on Thursday expressed confidence that its "valued" coalition partner will not desert it.

There are reports that JD(U) may declare at its national executive scheduled for this weekend that BJP announce its Prime Ministerial candidate. With a clamour in BJP for projecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the top post, the opposition party is in a fix as JD(U) is opposed to his candidature.

Asked about the issue, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said "JD(U) is a very, very valuable and long lasting ally of BJP."

She maintained JD(U) comes from a background of anti-Congress politics and is well aware of the corruption within the ruling party. She underscored the BJP belief that JD(U) would stay in NDA-fold.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whom many see as Modi's bete noire, has indicated the Gujarat Chief Minister is not acceptable to JD(U) as a PM candidate.

Kumar is wooing Muslims in Bihar and reportedly fears that Modi will scare them away due to his Hindu hardliner image and the blot of 2002 post-Godhra riots.

Kumar has said in the past that the NDA PM candidate should have secular credentials.

Asked if BJP feels Modi is secular, Sitharaman said "my party president Rajnath Singh has emphatically stated that Modi is secular and I second that view. In no uncertain terms, I wish to say Modi is secular."

PTI