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.
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. "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 LK Advani can be the NDA's PM candidate, saying he does not represent the BJP Parliamentary Board.