New Delhi: Continuing his offensive against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted to sack him after the Gujarat riots.
However, the RSS came out to Modi's defence and the Sangh chief called for a Prime Ministerial candidate committed to Hindutva.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat intervened in the battle for 2014 raging between two Chief Ministers, and openly coming out in support of Sangh's poster boy Narendra Modi.
At a function in Latur, a generally reticent Bhagwat said, "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 and propounds that view."
"Hindutva in reality is the true synonym for secularism," said RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav.
The statement by Mohan Bhagwat is not just for Nitish Kumar. There is an implicit message also for the second rung BJP leadership and also for the party veterans, that for the RSS, the chosen one to lead the BJP in 2014 is Narendra Modi.
But the Bihar Chief Minister stuck to his stand, taking the anti-Modi campaign a notch up.
Kumar retorted that Vajpayee was unhappy with Modi's handling of 2002 Gujarat riots, and had the former that it had cost NDA 2004 general elections. He also said that the former prime minister wanted to sack Modi after the riots.
"This country will get a secular government, be it from this side or that side," said JD (U) spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari.
With the JD (U) having enough numbers in the Bihar assembly to survive without the BJP, Nitish Kumar is just not backing out, especially with BJP-nominated Deputy Chief Minister in alliance, Sushil Modi, standing by his side.
The BJP has refused to be drawn into the spat again and has officially maintained a conspicuous silence on this issue. Therefore, Modi's defence is being left to his known supporters.
"Nitish Kumar was a part of the NDA government in 2002 and he continued to be one till 2004 when the Gujarat riots happened," said BJP Gujarat in-charge Balbir Punj.
With Nitish making his intent clear on Modi, and RSS deciding to back its poster boy, the question is – Is BJP's biggest ally planning to go alone in 2014?