By Syed Ubaidur Rahman (NVONews.Com)
A week after training his gun on Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena supremo, Bal Thackeray, has said something which is likely to have its reverberations within the National Democratic Alliance.
The Sena patriarch openly praised Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, and said she would be a “deserving” and “great choice” for the post of the Prime Minister. “At present, there is only one person who is intelligent, brilliant––Sushma Swaraj.”
Since Sena is one of the oldest allies of BJP, his statement was obviously not well received by the supporters of both Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, and party’s most seasoned campaigner, Lal Krishna Advani. In fact Thackeray expressed dismay over Advani’s recent prediction made in his blog that the next government may be formed by a non-NDA, non-UPA front.
“I find it difficult to say anything beyond. What should one expect from these people? Why did he say so?” Thackeray asked.
On whether the alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena was strong, Thackeray said: “Now (I) can’t use the word strong. Thinking has changed, there are personal animosities, animosities between the parties. NDA of the past had a leader like Vajpayee, now there is no such leadership. But I am talking about NDA, not BJP,” he said.
Thackeray’s comments came in the third part of his marathon interview, published by Sena mouthpiece Saamana on Sunday. It came in the wake of his recent meeting with Sushma Swaraj as part of her party’s campaign against the Centre over the coal block allocation controversy.
It is for the first time that any non-BJP leader of the NDA has spoken so clearly about any leader from the BJP as a prime ministerial candidate. Till now only the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has been opposing the name of Narendra Modi, though he was not proposing any other name.
Modi may not have any huge following within the NDA, but several BJP bigwigs have been backing him in his favour in the recent past.
Bal Thackeray’s praise for Sushma Swaraj has another angle. His nephew Raj is close to Narendra Modi, thus he can not back him.
It needs to be recalled that the BJP, Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and Janata Dal (United) are the oldest constituents of the NDA. The number swelled from four to 24 between 1998 and 2004 when it was in power under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
With BJP growing further weak and regional outfits supporting it, still strong, Bal Thackeray’s statement on Sushma Swaraj can not be rejected out of hand, feel political observers. If Nitish Kumar too throws his weight behind her than it would become all too difficult for the saffron party to back Modi. In such a situation squabbling may further get intensified within the BJP.