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Nitish Kumar will not walk out of NDA; LK Advani not sidelined: Rajnath Singh

Author: Rohini Singh
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: April 4, 2013
URL: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-04-04/news/38278522_1_jaswant-singh-prime-ministerial-candidate-mulayam-singh

Introduction: BJP president says LK Advani not sidelined, insists Modi had no say in formation of new team

BJP President Rajnath Singh has said he does not think Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will walk out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) even as it appears all but certain that Narendra Modi could be his party's prime ministerial candidate.

 In an exclusive interview to ET, his first since announcing a significant organisational reshuffle at the weekend that virtually anointed the Gujarat chief minister as the BJP's face for the next elections, Singh said there was no reason for Kumar's Janata Dal (United) to leave NDA.

"I don't think he will leave NDA and we are confident that JD(U) will remain a part of NDA. There is no reason for them to walk out," Singh said in response to a question whether BJP feared the Bihar leader would make good his previous veiled threat to walk out of NDA if Modi was its prime ministerial face in the elections.

 Asked if he had spoken to Kumar on the issue, Singh said: "We haven't spoken to him on this issue... I don't think he will leave NDA and we are confident that JD(U) will remain a part of NDA. There is no reason for them to walk out."

 The BJP president, however, sidestepped questions whether Modi's inclusion in BJP's decision-making parliamentary board was a signal that he was the party's prime ministerial candidate, only saying the inclusion reflected the fact that he was the seniormost BJP chief minister and there was one vacancy in the board.

 "There are no two views on the fact that he (Modi) is the most popular leader," Singh said. But asked whether this meant the Gujarat CM was likely to be the party's face, he said: "I don't have a problem with what meaning you want to deduce from my statements." The final decision on whether and whom to project as the prime ministerial candidate would be taken by the party's parliamentary board, he said.

 Singh also said he was not one of the aspirants for the top job, saying his task was to preside over the forum that will take this decision. "The person who is presiding over the forum can never be in the race."

 The BJP president rejected suggestions that veteran leader and the party's patriarch LK Advani had been sidelined in the latest organisational changes or that the rejig bore Modi's imprint.

 Singh said the Gujarat CM did not even discuss the composition of the new team with him, although he added that he consulted everybody, notably Advani, before finalising names. He also rejected talk that the reshuffle had sidelined leaders such as Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha, noting that they were not part of the previous parliamentary board either. "So where have they been dropped?"

He said BJP believed UPA government at the Centre is more unstable than it appears because of the increasingly precarious support of not only the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led SP or Mayawati's BSP but also other coalition partners. He declined to reveal the Congress-led UPA's other problem allies and said BJP was preparing for early polls, possibly in October or November. The party would go to polls with an agenda of development rather than just focusing on the government's negatives, Singh said.
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