New Delhi: In comments which could spell fresh trouble for BJP-JD(U) alliance, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate should be somebody with "secular credentials", apparently giving a thumbs down to his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi.

Even as differences over the Presidential election continue to simmer between BJP and JD(U), Kumar has made comments which are contradictory to his ally's views. He has hinted that Modi who is being touted as the first choice of BJP for Prime Minister's post does not fit the bill.

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Differing with the BJP view that the Prime Minister will be chosen after the Lok Sabha elections, Kumar said, "The NDA will have to declare its nominee. The electorate should know who they are voting for and who will lead the country. The NDA should have a leader who can feel for the underdeveloped states like Bihar.

"It should not be someone who can develop developed states, but who has a feel for underdeveloped states," he said in an interview.

Though Kumar has not named anybody, he was apparently referring to Modi, with whom he does not enjoy a healthy relationship. The two had a war of words recently when Kumar attacked Modi for saying Bihar had lagged behind due to caste politics.

Kumar had then said Modi is like the pot calling the kettle black. "One whose hands are full of communalism does not have the moral right to malign others for casteism," Kumar said.

Stressing on declaring the PM candidate in advance, Kumar said, "This leader should be acceptable to every constituent of the alliance. To me, the leader of the coalition should have secular credentials."

Khurshid backs Nitish's remarks

Meanwhile, Law Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday backed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's comments but asked why he even entertained fears that a non-secular person could reach that position.

"I think it is a welcome thing. We are a secular country, so our Prime Minister must be secular. If there was any doubt about this in any political organisation, their own leaders now coming out outspokenly and saying this clearly, is a welcome thing," Khurshid said.

"Nitishji has said that the Indian Prime Minister should be secular, I am hundred percent in agreement. But why does Nitish Kumar have fears that Indian Prime Minister will not be secular, I am not able to understand," he said.

Khurshid was asked by reporters about his views on the remarks made by the Bihar Chief Minister in an interview, where he made it apparent that BJP leader Narendra Modi was unacceptable to him as the NDA's prime ministerial candidate.

On Kumar's comments that the Prime Minister should feel for under-developed states, he said, "Whoever becomes the Prime Minister is responsible for the entire country and to say that he should be concerned about states which are developing and not those which are developed, then what will happen is that we will allow states which can be helpful for growth to be weakened.

"So how would be we then help those which need help for development?" he asked.

Khurshid stressed on the need for a balanced approach towards all states, saying that the resources for the development of the lesser developed states in the country came from the developed areas.

'PM should be like Vajpayee'

The NDA's prime ministerial candidate should be as liberal a person as former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said on Tuesday.

"The prime ministerial candidate will be decided by the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and not the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)," Modi said here.

A BJP leader, Modi spoke following Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's statement that the NDA should declare its prime ministerial candidate well in advance and he or she should be secular and accepted to all.

"The PM should be liberal ('udar') like Atal Bihari Vajpayee," Modi told newspersons.But he added that it was too early to talk about the prime ministerial candidate as the 2014 elections were far away.


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