Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray on Sunday said that only senior Bharatiya Janatha party (BJP) leader and leader of opposition in Loksabha Sushama Swaraj deserved to be prime minister of the country as she is the only one currently working for the nation's progress.
Bal Thackeray's statement made it clear that the Maharashtra-based Sena is not going to support BJP strong man Narendra Modi in the 2014 elections. This is the first time that the Shiv Sena, a decisive ally of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), spelled out their choice for prime ministership. Thackeray made known his opinion in the party mouth piece 'Saamna' on Sunday.
"At present there is only one person who is intelligent, brilliant - Sushma Swaraj," Thackeray said in part three of his marathon interview to Saamna.
He also expressed his disappointment over Adavani's statement saying that the government would not be formed by BJP or NDA.
"Advani is nine months younger to me, and yet I find it difficult to say anything about him. I do not understand why they say such things...let it be," 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 Atal Bihari Vajpayee, now there is no such leadership. But I am talking about NDA, not BJP," he added.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders took a dig at Thackeray's statement and said no one person can declare the candidate for the prime ministerial race.
"BJP has many leaders who are competent to become the Prime Minister and are acceptable in the country... a decision on this will be taken by the BJP and other NDA partners at the time of elections," BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said to The Economic Times.
BJP spokesperson Balbir Punj said that the party welcomes the claims of Thackeray.
"We have a lot of capable leaders who can become the Prime Minister. Our existence is not dependent on a single family and, therefore, different people see different leaders in our party who can lead the country in these difficult times. And we welcome what Balasaheb has said," Balbir Punj said.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said that the NDA is trying to count the chickens before they hatch.
"The larger NDA suffers from a unique malady of anointing prime ministers without waiting for people's verdict. The NDA/BJP should not count their chickens before they hatch," he said