While the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government has hobbled its way into the fourth year of its second term, its main rival and potential government-in-waiting the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is faring little better. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA continues in a state disarray. Indeed, if anything, it looks to be continuing its slide toward fragmentation.
After an internal spat over the issue of a presidential candidate, the NDA on June 19 faced another mini-crisis, this time on the issue of the alliance’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections, with key ally Janata Dal (United) openly indicating for the first time that it will walk out of the NDA if controversial Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is eyes as the candidate for premier, according to remarks in the Economic Times.
The latest row was kicked off by JD (U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who suggested that Modi was an unacceptable choice as prime minister. Hours later, JD (U) leader Devesh Chandra Thakur hammered the point home when he was asked by reporters whether his party will walk out of the NDA if the alliance were to offer Modi.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
“Absolutely, there is no doubt about it. If a leader with a communal image is projected we will object and we will part ways,” Thakur said, in what was taken to be a clear reference to Modi.
To rub salt into the NDA wounds, another NDA member and BJP ally, the Shiv Sena, solidly backed Kumar and said the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate can’t be decided only by the BJP. Such comments come in stark contrast with Sena Chief Bal Thackeray’s statement pledging unconditional support to the UPA’s presidential candidate, Pranab Mukherjee.
All this comes as former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma, a self-proclaimed presidential candidate, has been summoned by party bosses over his decision to contest the July 19 presidential election against Mukherjee. With former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam refusing to run for the presidency despite immense pressure from the BJP, the party has been resting its hopes on Sangma to put up a credible fight in the presidential race. Sangma’s bowing out of the race would therefore be a setback for the BJP as it would brighten the prospects of Mukherjee being elected president of India unanimously.