Party leaders Maneka Gandhi, Shatrughan Sinha, C.P. Thakur and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi rallied behind Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for naming him as the BJP nominee for the PM post.
The BJP president Rajnath Singh on Monday made a “final appeal” to party leaders by issuing a virtual gag ordernot to speak on the party’s PM candidate., but it failed to have any impact as it was breached by two leaders from Bihar pitching for Narendra Modi.
Former Bihar BJP president C P Thakur, who had earlier also raised the demand, reiterated that the “party would stand to gain immensely if it were to announce Modi’s name as PM candidate, much ahead of the Lok Sabha elections”.
He also demanded the party to convene a meeting of its Parliamentary Board and decide upon its prime ministerial candidate “as general elections may be held immediately after the Union Budget”.
Concerned over party leaders voicing their opinion in public and the fissures within NDA on the issue of declaring Gujarat Chief Minister as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, Singh made a "final appeal" to his party leaders not to speak on the issue.
"I want to humbly appeal to BJP workers and leaders that there should be no statement from them on who will be the candidate for the Prime Minister's post. As I have said earlier, the BJP convention is that any decision on the chief ministerial or prime ministerial candidate is taken by the Central Parliamentary Board," he told reporters in Delhi.
Singh had issued a similar directive earlier but it seems to have had little impact on the BJP leaders. No sooner had Singh issued his directive, former Bihar BJP Chief C P Thakur reiterated his support for Modi as the PM candidate, saying the party would gain from it.
Insisting that Singh has not issued a gag order, Thakur said, "BJP will gain (by declaring Modi the candidate). By declaring him (Modi) the candidate BJP will certainly gain because of many factors... There is a feeling among the people that he should be the candidate."
Another BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha backed party colleague Yashwant Sinha who has openly pitched for declaring Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate.
"Yashwant Sinhaji is a senior and an experienced leader. He never talks light. He speaks only after giving deep thought on an issue, I stand with him on what he has said," Sinha told reporters in Patna.
"There is always truth in what he says I have always been by his side ideologically," Shatrughan said. Echoing Rajnath's views, President of BJP's key ally JD(U) Sharad Yadav demanded an end to the "mad rush" among NDA leaders to speak on the issue.
"I have never seen such a mad rush for prime ministership in the last six decades," Yadav told reporters. JD(U) has reservations about Modi being made the PM candidate of NDA.
Shatrughan Sinha, who had also opposed second term for Nitin Gadkari as BJP President along with Yashwant Sinha and
Ram Jethmalani, said he spoke the truth and never crossed the party lakshman rekha.