New Delhi: The voices within BJP pitching for Narendra Modi as the party's Prime Minister grew louder on Tuesday with two MPs Ram Jethmalani and C P Thakur backing him but discomfort among NDA allies was visible with Shiv Sena batting for Sushma Swaraj for the top post.
A day after Yashwant Sinha said the Gujarat Chief Minister should be declared the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, eminent lawyer and party Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani said Modi is the best candidate and that he is "impeccably secular".
"According to me Narendra Bhai is the most and the best Prime Minister for this country. Nothing has happened to change my mind... Modi in my definition of secularism is 100 percent secular," Jethamalani told reporters on Tuesday.
The noted lawyer said he had supported Modi as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate about a month back and expressed happiness over Yashwant Sinha supporting him on the issue.
"I don't believe that Yashwant Sinha has said anything to the contrary. He has supported my view and I am very happy that he has supported me. It lends greater credibility to what I have said," he said.
Sinha had said that announcing Modi's candidature would hugely benefit the BJP and increase its seat tally significantly in the next Lok Sabha elections due in 2014.
Media reports said former Bihar unit chief of BJP C P Thakur also reiterated his support for "Modi for PM".
While BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said party will take a decision at the appropriate time, NDA ally Shiv Sena appeared to have reservations about Modi.
"We feel Sushma Swaraj is the suitable candidate for the PM's post," Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut said in Mumbai.
Another ally JD(U) has already strongly indicated that it does not want Modi as the NDA's PM candidate. While a growing section within the BJP seems to be openly stating that Modi should be declared the PM candidate to improve the party's electoral prospects, NDA allies may play the spoilsport.
Those within BJP who are opposed to Modi say that while JD(U) and SS are not backing him, declaring him the PM candidate before polls may scare away some prospective allies.
Meanwhile, Congress dismissed the clamour for Modi as "daydreaming" by the BJP and said it will not come to power. "2004 PM candidate Vajpayee= Lost 2009 PM candidate Advani = Lost 2014 BJP again in Cuckooland " Deli Doorast Bahut Doorast," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said on Twitter.
Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, "this is nothing but daydreaming. They are fighting over something, which is not going to happen. There is not even a distant possibility of their getting enough strength to form a government."
In the NDA, Shiv Sena's support for Swaraj is not new. Late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray had also pitched for her.
Sena had recently slammed Modi, the BJP's Hindutva poster-boy, for allowing the Pakistan cricket team to play a match at Rajkot.
An editorial in the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' had said that while the Gujarat government had turned away a 22-member Pakistani delegation, which had come down to participate in the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit, due to India's strained relations with that country, "a fortnight ago, the entire Pakistani cricket team was playing in Rajkot".
"If Modi government had sent the Pakistani cricketers back in a similar manner, there would have been another feather of patriotism in Gujarat’s cap," the paper said.
Jethmalani, who had supported Modi for the top post last year while demanding that BJP president Nitin Gadkari step down, said, "I believe he is impeccably secular and when I use the word best, it means better than all those who according to me are known aspirants of the job."