BJP leader Arun Jaitley has dismissed reports of a rift within the NDA, saying that the JDU decision to contest the Gujarat polls separately, and Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray‘s comment that Sushma Swaraj was the most suitable Prime Ministerial candidate were being exaggerated by the media.
In an interview with CNN-IBN‘s Karan Thapar, Jaitley said that the JDU had often campaigned separately in state polls including Gujarat, and this was a completely normal feature of coalition politics in India. “Even if you look at UPA alliances, the NCP and Congress have contested separately as have the TMC and Congress”, he said, adding that such state level divisions did not affect national level coalitions in any way.
With regards to Bal Thackeray‘s comment on Sushma Swaraj, Jaitley said, “It is their opinion and when we decide on a PM candidate we will discuss with all allies”. He added that as a friendly party the Shiv Sena had every right to express an opinion, adding that he did not see that ‘right’ as a challenge to the alliance.
Jaitley also defended the BJP’s decision to continously disrupt Parliament, arguing that this did not mean that they had no regard for the institution or that their actions had rendered it irrelevant in any way.
“We have the highest respect for Parliament. We use Parliament to send a message through debate, but also through protest. It was the government that tried to sabotage Parliament and CAG, which is why we resorted to an extra-Parliamentary protest”, he said.
Jaitley added that it was the protest which had highlighted the discrepancies pointed out by CAG in the coal allocations report. “A mere report can only give basic facts. The agitation took it from home to home and person to person”, he said.