New Delhi, June 20: The BJP-JD(U) alliance appeared to be on the brink of collapse on Wednesday as a war of words between the two party’s leaders over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi intensified.
The JD(U) categorically said that it would walk out of the alliance if the NDA decides to project a ''fanatic face'' as its Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 polls.
The BJP was quick to hit back, saying no one can give a fatwa on who is secular. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat also came in the defence of Modi, saying why shouldn’t a 'Hinduwadi' become the Prime Minister.
In an interview to a leading business daily, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had on Tuesday said only a ''secular'' Prime Ministerial candidate should be projected by the NDA in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. His party general secretary Shivanand Tiwari today raised the anti-Modi pitch, stating NDA cannot come to power with a ''fanatic face'' and JD(U) will not compromise on principles on which it had joined the Opposition alliance in 1996.
He said that surveys indicate that had former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee dismissed the Modi government in Gujarat for the post-Godhra riots in 2002, NDA would have still been in power and not lost the 2004 General Elections.
''People who voted for BJP due to liberal face of Vajpayee went away from it after Gujarat riots and the floating votes went to Congress because people do not accept fanatic politics.
''Those people in BJP who want the party to come to power will have to realise that they cannot do it by putting a fanatic face in the front,'' Tiwari said in an apparent reference to Modi.
He said history tells that whenever India has been ruled by secular forces, it has developed and whenever Fascist forces have taken over, it has suffered. He gave the examples of Akbar and Ashoka on the one hand and Aurangzeb on the other.
Reacting to Tiwari's statement, BJP leader Balbir Punj said, ''This is a needless controversy. Nobody has a right in this country to give fatwa as to who is secular and who is not. People have their opinions.''
Bhagwat was unsparing in his criticism of the Bihar Chief Minister, saying his remarks reflected ''political opportunism''.
''Nitish Kumar has said NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 elections should be secular. This shows political opportunism. He has made the statement so that his vote bank remains intact,'' he said.
Bhagwat also described Hinduism as an ''all-inclusive'' religion and wondered why a Hinduwadi should not become the Prime Minister.
In Delhi, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said Hindutva is the ''true synonym'' for secularism and is liberal as it embraces all other religions.
JD(U) chief and NDA convener Sharad Yadav declined to comment on the spat.
''Nitish Kumar is a responsible person. If he has said something on which somebody else has said something, what is the need for me to paraphrase it further,'' was his brief remark on the issue.