Patna/Varanasi, June 19 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday backed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's recent comment that the NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate should be somebody with 'secular credentials'.
The Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil Modi, said that the Prime Ministerial candidate of the NDA should be liberal and acceptable to every section of the society.
"I believe that the Prime Ministerial candidate should be like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he should be liberal and acceptable to everyone in the society," he told media in Patna.
Another BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi also echoed similar sentiments on the issue, and said that the Prime Minister should be non-sectarian.
"I only believe that the Prime Minister should be non-sectarian. India is a secular country and it needs a non-sectarian Prime Minister and even the constitution talks about a secular Prime Minister," Joshi told media in Varanasi.
"The people of this country should decide whether they want religion to prevail or not. In India religion does not mean to follow on faith but it is a way of living. Hence the Prime Minister should be secular and non-sectarian," he added.
Seeking to rest all speculation, Nitish Kumar in an interview to a national daily has asserted that he is not in the prime ministerial race. However, without taking names, he has also made it clear that JD (U) will not accept the leadership of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
He insisted that the NDA should name its Prime Ministerial candidate before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the candidate must have secular credentials and a liberal frame of mind.
"NDA should declare its candidate in advance. This leader should be acceptable to every constituent of the alliance. To me, the leader of the coalition should have secular credentials. It should be someone who has absolute faith in democratic values," he said.
"In a multi-religious and multi-lingual country like ours, the leader should not have rough edges in his personality. An alliance can win the confidence of the people only if the leader is seen as accommodating," he added.
Nitish Kumar's candid comments appear to be aimed at setting the rules of the game before the NDA starts to mull over the strategy to take on the UPA in 2014.
The latest war-of-words seems to have been sparked off by Modi's recent comments on Bihar.
Speaking at a public rally in Rajkot, Modi had reportedly said, " Bihar, at one point of time, was a political and spiritual leader of the country, but it slipped into socio-economical backwardness ever since the casteist leadership took centrestage." (ANI)