| (From left) State NDA convener Nand Kishore Yadav, BJP national general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudi, former state president Radha Mohan Singh at the Vijayotsav at SK Memorial in Patna on Monday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
Patna, April 22: BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha today parroted Nitish Kumar in preferring L.K. Advani as the prime ministerial candidate over Narendra Modi, bringing to the fore the divide in the party on the issue.
“Both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and L.K. Advani are in their 80s. But Advani has superior reflexes, vision and foresight than Manmohan. Therefore, he (Advani) should be projected as the prime ministerial candidate,” Sinha said at a function to mark the 1858 victory of the first war of Independence hero, Veer Kuer Singh, over Captain Le Grand.
The BJP had organised the function, called Vijayotsav, at the S.K. Memorial auditorium which can seat over 2,000 people. The party’s newly anointed national general secretary, Rajiv Pratap Rudi, state NDA convener, Nand Kishore Yadav, besides several senior BJP leaders attended.
Defying the overwhelming sentiment of the crowd, which was relentlessly chanting “Desh ka neta kaisa ho, Narendra Modi jaisa ho, Sinha, the Lok Sabha member from Patna Sahib, drew a parallel between Kuer Singh and Advani.
“Some people talk about our patriarch’s (Advani’s) advancing age,” Sinha said, “but they should remember that Kuer Singh too led the armed battle against the British when he was in his 80s, and defeated the East India Company’s army.”
But the actor appeared to be a lone Advani “promoter” on the dais. From Rudi, state ministers Nand Kishore and Chandra Mohan Rai to MP Radhamohan Singh, all BJP leaders took veiled potshots at Nitish and his Janata Dal (United).
In an oblique reference to the JD(U) and its leadership, Rudi said: “It is unfortunate that, of late, a regional party (read JD-U), which has barely two per cent vote share at the national level against BJP’s over 22 per cent, is trying to dictate terms to our national party. Such tendencies of the regional parties will pose a long-term danger to national unity and as such they should be nipped in the bud.”
Sinha’s support for Nitish’s stand found echo in state tourism minister Sunil Kumar. He told PTI he preferred the Nitish model of governance to the Modi model.