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Advani very much in the PM race, says Sushma

Advani very much in the PM race, says Sushma
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Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj asserted that former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani is very much in the reckoning for being...

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj asserted that former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani is very much in the reckoning for being declared the NDA's prime ministerial candidate. "We have not ruled out anyone. An appropriate decision in this regard will be taken at an appropriate time," Sushma said in reply to a question in a recent interview on whether Advani was out of the race to lead the NDA's campaign for the coming Lok Sabha polls.

The Opposition leader's assertion lays bare the differences within the BJP, and the alliance led by it, on their prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.A Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who's the de-facto leader of the Janata Dal (United), has already made it clear that he will snap his 17-year-old ties with the BJP if Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is designated as the NDA's prime ministerial contender.

While BJP president Rajnath Singh is rooting for Modi, an influential section within the saffron party is not too enthused by the idea. A Asked about the BJP president's statement declaring Modi as the most popular leader in the party, Sushma said that it was his (Singh's) perception. "But this does not mean other leaders are not popular," she added.

The senior BJP leader also refused to endorse the assessment, held by many, that Modi's induction into the party's central parliamentary board was an indication of his popularity. "The party president has clarified that he had only one vacancy and since Modi is the senior-most chief minister, he was inducted in it. There is no other reason," Sushma said.

She also made it clear that the Lok Sabha polls will not be a "Modi versus Rahul Gandhi" contest. "The Congress and the BJP have not declared their prime ministerial candidates yet. We have not projected Modi, neither has the Congress projected Rahul. So this will not be a Modi versus Rahul, but an NDA versus UPA battle," Sushma said.

Sushma Swaraj also denied that there were differences within the NDA on the leadership issue and that it was responsible for the party letting the UPA government off the hook on crucial issues. "Whatever you are saying is just the creation of the media. We have no issues like this before us. We are very clear, first we will decide if we want to project a prime ministerial candidate or not. If we decide to project someone, than we will decide on who will it be.

"Since we have an alliance, the BJP alone will not decide the issue. The NDA will sit together and decide. Media is in a hurry, but we are not. If Nitish wants to say something, he can say it when he is consulted in the process,'' Sushma said. The BJP leader also predicted that there could be snap polls. "The elections, it seems, could take place six months before the schedule,'' she said. On the prospect of the finance Bill passing muster, Swaraj said it was predicated on the government's reflexes in the coming days. "It all depends on what is the government's stance," she said.

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