New Delhi/Mumbai/Patna, Jan 29 (IANS) Voices continued to arise within the BJP Tuesday for making Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the party's prime ministerial candidate. But ally Shiv Sena said it preferred Sushma Swaraj for the role.
A day after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha favoured making Modi the prime ministerial candidate for 2014 elections, MP C.P. Thakur echoed similar views.
Suspended party MP Ram Jethmalani also said Modi was the best bet for the task.
But voices in the BJP in support of Modi's candidature have not made an impact on the party's allies in the National Democratic Alliance.
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has already indicated its reservations over making Modi the prime ministerial candidate while Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut backed Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj for the post.
"We feel Sushma Swaraj is the suitable candidate for the PM's post," Raut said in Mumbai.
Former Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackery too had favoured Sushma Swaraj as the prime ministerial candidate.
Thakur, who was in Patna, supported Sinha over his views that making Modi prime ministerial candidate would benefit the BJP.
"He is suitable as prime ministerial candidate," Thakur said.
Jethmalani told reporters in Delhi that Modi was best suited to be the prime ministerial candidate.
"Narendra-bhai is the best prime minister (candidate) of the country. Nothing has happened to change my mind. Yashwant Sinha has supported my view, and I'm very happy," Jethmalani said.
JD-U, the second-largest party in the BJP-led NDA, has been against projecting Modi for the top post due to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Asked if the JD-U could walk out over Modi's projection, Jethmalani said: "I don't think that will happen. But if it happens, let it happen".
"Tomorrow, if like my friend (JD-U chief) Sharad Yadav, some new gem of purist race turns up and declares he is also an aspirant, there is enough time to evaluate his candidature."
"This is democracy. Everybody has the right to proclaim his candidature, but at the present moment, I still think Modi is the best and Sharad Yadav has said nothing to the contrary," Jethmalani said.
"They (BJP) should announce the candidate. It is inconvenient for people in a democracy to know after election who their prime minister should be," Jethmalani said.
Sinha, who strongly backed Modi's candidature Monday, said that riots were unfortunate but they have "been attached to Modi deliberately".
"But the situation is different in Gujarat. Muslims also voted for Modi in substantial numbers," Sinha told NDTV news channel.
He said the BJP leaders should try to convince the JD-U leaders that "Modi is secular and walking out of the alliance is not good".
Sinha said it was he who forged the alliance when JD-U leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was in the Samata Party.
"The alliance has stood the test of time despite some differences," he said.
The BJP has not made any decision about its contender for the top post so far. Senior leaders have said an appropriate decision would be taken at an appropriate time.