New Delhi: BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Monday downplayed Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's statement that Sushma Swaraj is the only "deserving" BJP leader for the Prime Minister's post, saying the party will decide on it along with its allies at the time of election.

He also brushed aside talk of small parties in NDA alliance taking critical decisions on behalf of the BJP and said suggestions by these allies are not viewed as a challenge to the party.

"I think the allies express their opinion and they have a right to express their opinion. Frankly when we decide alongwith our allies at the time of the next election, we factor in every factor therein," Jaitley said.

He said, "The smaller and friendly parties can always make suggestions. They have a right to make suggestions. I don't take it as an idea of a challenge."

Asked who in BJP could become the next Prime Minister, Thackeray had in an interview to Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said, "At present there is only one person who is intelligent, brilliant - Sushma Swaraj...She would be a great choice for PM's post. She is a deserving, intelligent woman. She would deliver a great performance."

Jaitley denied that NDA allies have an upper hand in the alliance and that they were dictating terms to the BJP saying, "I don't think so. In any alliance, the anchor has to be a largest party and most of our allies including Nitish Kumar has always conceded that."

The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha justified the BJP action of stalling Parliament over Coal block allocation issue and claimed the BJP protest had actually brought the issue on the centre-stage before the public.

On whether JD-U's decision to campaign and contest independently in Gujarat assembly elections would break the NDA alliance, Jaitley said it was not so and such factors would not affect the alliance.

"When allies at the state level contest separately in some states, it does not affect our all-India alliance. That has been in the past and that is the present," Jaitley said.

Jaitley justified JD-U's action of contesting independently and said, "It is an electoral strategy that every party has adopted and JD-U even in the past has campaigned and contested separately in some states.... In any electoral politics, even in past these kind of small factors existed and we can comfortably take care of that."

He also cited cases of UPA alliance partners NCP and TMC, which have been contesting independently in many states even though they are part of the government with Congress.

Justifying the party's action of stalling Parliament, Jaitley claimed it has helped bring the issue to centre-stage before the public which will help in bringing the guilty to book.

"Parliament is a place of debate. Parliament is also meant for accountability of government. When government tries to bypass accountability by letting it off to pass off as a one-day debate, then we feel, though we do it with a sense of regret, in extreme cases some obstructionism brings the government to accountability.

"...The kind of protest that we have resorted to has resulted in bringing the issue to centre-stage for three weeks where the government's standard of accountability are going to be higher," he said.


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