New Delhi: Sacked BJP leader and eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani on Thursday said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is the best option for BJP's prime ministerial candidate. He said, "I believe Narendra Modi is the best option. He is an avatar."
He also took a dig at senior BJP leader LK Advani and said Advani cannot win votes. "Advani should have more realistic view over his hold over the people. He cannot win votes," he said.
The remarks came at a time when party President Rajnath Singh has been meeting senior party leaders including LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj to garner support for Modi's prime ministerial candidature. He met Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj but it did not yield any result. She reiterated her position and said any decision on Modi's anointment should be taken after Assembly elections later in 2013.
There has been a controversy over Modi's candidature. The Advani camp is insisting that the decision be taken after Assembly polls in Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. On the other hand, many BJP and RSS leaders insist the decision be taken right away.
Earlier in the day Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi hit out at Advani and said he himself should come out and name Modi as the party's PM candidate. Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Sushil made it clear that the mood in the BJP is in favour of naming Modi as the PM candidate.
"The mood amongst the BJP workers is in support of Modi. BJP supporters and many others feel the party should not delay their announcement. Advaniji should have come out and named Modi," Sushil Modi said.
When asked if Modi could be a coalition leader considering secular parties may not support him, Sushil said, "Nitish Kumar left NDA not because of Narendra Modi but due to personal reasons. If BJP wins 180 to 190 seats in Lok Sabha polls, then many fence sitters will support Narendra Modi.
"There should not be fear psychosis that all other leaders will vanish. No leader can ignore a towering personality like Advaniji and Sushmaji," Sushil added.
Sushil had on Wednesday tweeted, "Advaniji has failed to gauge the public mood. He himself declared Atalji as the PM candidate. He could have done the same for Modi. Politics is the only profession in which people aspire till their last. Ministerial berth can resurrect a dead politician."
Following this, there was a tweet war of sorts with Advani aide Sudheendra Kulkarni and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy arguing against what he tweeted.
"A socially polarising leader has polarised his own party. Can he run a smooth, stable and effective government at the Centre? THINK SERIOUSLY," Kulkarni tweeted. "Advani was the favoured candidate for PM in 1996. But he chose then to make a sacrifice then. It is wrong to say PM aspiration is behind it," Swamy tweeted.
Sources said that party patriarch Advani has told Rajnath that unlike Goa, he will attend the Parliamentary board meeting and register his protest on nominating Modi. Sources said Rajnath is still keen on achieving consensus on Modi's nomination. The RSS wants Modi nominated, but has left the decision on the process and timing of announcement to Rajnath, said sources.
Sources said the Modi camp is insisting that the announcement be made either on Friday or on Monday. Rajnath Singh has said that an announcement will be made after discussions. Rajnath denied there is any split in the party on Modi. "No one in the party is upset. All are together. There is no problem in the party," Rajnath Singh said.