New Delhi: Atal Bihari Vajpayee's closest aide and former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra on Wednesday made it clear that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi can never be an Atal Bihari Vajpayee and can never become the Prime Minister. Mishra backed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's claims that Vajpayee wanted Modi sacked after the 2002 Gujarat riots and that is why he had advised him to follow 'Raj Dharma'.
Mishra also cleared the air by saying that there is no comparison between Vajpayee and Modi. "Vajpayee is the only statesman alive in the country - whether is is the NDA or the UPA."
NDA has no leader like Vajpayee, said the senior leader, and also stated that Modi can become the Prime Minister only and only if BJP gets an absolute majority as he can never get more allies. He also said, the taint of what happened in 2002 hasn't gone away from Modi.
Nitish had claimed that Modi's "mishandling" of the 2002 Gujarat riots led to him (Modi) almost being sacked by the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as he had not followed 'Raj Dharma'. "Vajapyee was not happy the way Modi handled Gujarat," said Nitish while adding that Modi failed to control the 2002 Gujarat riots after the Sabarmati Express train burning incident at Godhra, which led to the NDA losing the Lok Sabha elections in 2004.
"Modi's mishandling of Gujarat cost NDA power in 2004," said Nitish.
Nitish also stood by his comments on a secular Prime Minister. He said, "I stick to my comments about need for a secular Prime Minister."
Supporting Modi, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat earlier in the day had said that the country should have a Prime Minister who believes in and propagates the Hindu ideology. Hitting out at Nitish Kumar, Bhagwat said that Nitish is scared to call himself a Hindu.
Bhagwat, too, joined the war of words on Wednesday by backing Modi as BJP's prime ministerial candidate and took on Nitish. Bhagwat said the country should have Prime Minister who propounds Hindutva.
"To keep alive the Hindutva ideology, the Hindu samaaj should come together. And the country should have a Prime Minister who believes in that ideology or propounds that view," said Bhagwat. The RSS chief also slammed Nitish and said that he is scared to call himself a Hindu.
Menawhile, backing Bhagwat's comments, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said, "Sangh has always believed that Hindutva is truely secular. Hindutva in reality is true synonym of secularism. Mohan Bhagwat has only reitrated that view. It is totally uncalled for to relate it to the current political scenario."
The statements came a day after after Nitish said that the NDA must choose a secular prime ministerial candidiate for 2014. Modi and Nitish have been at loggerheads recently with Modi blaming Bihar's laggard growth to casteist politics.
In response to the RSS chief's statements, JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari had come out in support of Nitish, saying that NDA lost the 2004 and the 2009 Lok Sabha elections as the secular votes went to the UPA. Clarifying that his party is a partner of the BJP and not of Modi. he said, "We have an alliance with the BJP and not with Modi. Whether we remain in the NDA or not, we will not compromise on secularism."
The JD(U) reacted to the RSS remarks by saying that it has narrowed down the ideology of Hindusim and said that the RSS's support comes as no surprise considering that Modi himself has a RSS backgorund.
Tiwari claimed that despite the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in favour of removing Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat following the 2002 riots, but the move was opposed by several senior BJP leaders.