New Delhi: Reflecting widening rift with JD-U, BJP on Monday said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was "nobody" to give a certificate on secularism to his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi and pointed out that he has remained a part of NDA even after the 2002 Godhra incident.

READ MORE: Bihar BJP hits out at Nitish Kumar

The resentment in BJP over Kumar's scathing attack on Modi on Sunday was visible with several leaders feeling the Bihar CM had "almost gone to a point of no return".BJP leaders strongly defended Modi, but observers said it was too early to say whether the two parties would part ways on the issue of making the Gujarat Chief Minister NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate.

"So far as any allegation, accusation against our CM is concerned, we completely abhor that and Kumar is nobody whose certificate is required so far as that particular aspect is concerned," BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi told reporters. She rubbed in the point that Kumar was part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government when the Godhra incident took place and still continued to be a part of the NDA.

Fissure in NDA? Nitish takes on Modi

"In 2002 also, Nitish Kumar was a part of our (NDA) government. During the Sabarmati Express incident (Godhra, 2002), he was the Rail minister," Lekhi said. Though BJP referred to JD-U as an "old ally", it said Kumar "does not have to speak" on Modi's credentials. "We have specified that there is nobody in the BJP who is not secular," Lekhi said.

BJP also maintained that it will consult its allies before deciding on who will be its PM candidate. But in the same breath the party insisted that it was in no mood for a compromise. "BJP cannot compromise with its ideology. This has already been stated categorically by the party yesterday," Lekhi said, reiterating that an "unequivocal" response to Kumar has already been made by the BJP.

The party made light of its leader Yashwant Sinha's view that L K Advani can be the NDA's PM candidate, saying he does not represent the BJP Parliamentary Board. "Yashwant Sinha is a leader in his own right but definitely he does not represent the Parliamentary Board," Lekhi said, adding that it was for the party's Parliamentary Board to announce the name of the Prime Ministerial candidate.

"We all are waiting when Parliamentary Board will meet and announce the name of the Prime Minister (candidate)," she said. BJP sources, at the same time, maintained that Kumar was adamant in his opposition to Modi.

With a growing clamour within the party for making Modi the PM candidate, some top BJP leaders see the two parties headed for a break-up. Earlier in the day, a group of BJP leaders from Bihar met BJP President Rajnath Singh here and conveyed to him their anger towards Nitish Kumar.

These leaders, who have openly supported Modi, told Singh that it is time the alliance with JD-U was snapped as it is only harming the BJP. The group comprised former Bihar unit Chief C P Thakur, Bihar Health Minister Ashwini Choubey, Giriraj Singh and Chandramohan Rai, among others.

After the meeting, Giriraj Singh told reporters, "We have apprised our party president about all the issues. He has promised us that he will take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time." With several leaders from the state publicly joining issue with JD-U on Modi, the BJP top brass on Monday also told them to practice restraint while talking to the media.


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