New Delhi: Raising Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's pitch for a secular prime ministerial candidate for 2014 elections, JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari today said BJP will have to decide whether it wants to form a government or remain in the Opposition as the country is not in favour of a "fanatic face".
"BJP had realised in 1996 itself that they cannot form a government in the country on the basis of their hardcore Hindutva agenda and, hence, NDA was formed after it agreed to drop the three contentious issues of Uniform Civil Code, withdrawal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and construction of Ram temple," he said, maintaining that the changed stance had the backing of RSS.
In reply to a question, Tiwari said JD(U) will not compromise on the secular framework based on which it had become a part of NDA. "We will not compromise whether our government remains in Bihar or not," he said.
Tiwari said that few postpoll surveys had pointed out that had the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee "dismissed" the Narendra Modi government after post-Godhra riots, the NDA would not have lost the 2004 general elections.
He said while Vajpayee had asked Modi to follow the 'Raj Dharma' and wanted the government to go, the move was "vetoed" by BJP leaders like LK Advani.
"People who voted for BJP due to liberal face of Vajpayee went away from it after Gujarat riots and the floating votes went to Congress because people do not accept fanatic politics," he said.
"Those people in BJP who want the party to come to power will have to realise that they cannot do it by putting a fanatic face in the front," Tiwari said in an apparent reference to Modi.
Reacting to Tiwari's statement, BJP leader Balbir Punj said, "This is a needless controversy. Nobody has a right in this country to give fatwa as to who is secular and who is not. People have their opinions."
Maintaining that there appears to be two lines of thinking in BJP today, Tiwari said, "One is that there is a need for a larger group like NDA if it wants to return to power as a government cannot be formed by propping up a fanatic face.
"The second line of thinking is to go back to its pre-1996 ideology. This is what is being reflected from the statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. We want to tell Bhagwat that the country does not approve of this ideology and the BJP cannot form a government on the basis of such an ideology."
He was reacting to reported remarks of Bhagwat slamming Nitish Kumar on his stand on Modi.
Tiwari dismissed Bhagwat's statement, saying JD (U) has nothing to do with the RSS chief's remarks as "our alliance is with BJP and not RSS."
"It seems that those advocating hardcore line in BJP are gaining prominence," he said.
Tiwari said history tells that whenever India has been ruled by secular forces, it has developed and whenever fascist forces have taken over, it has suffered. He gave the examples of Akbar and Ashoka on the one hand and Aurangzeb on the other.
He said after the creation of Pakistan, the country need not be divided again on religious lines.
Punj said JD (U) should not forget that when 2002 Gujarat riots took place, Nitish Kumar was very much a part of NDA.
"He was a part of the central government...The entire controversy does not make any sense. All BJP leaders from Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Narendra Modi are bound by the policies of BJP.
"You cannot say 'X' is following the policy and 'Y' is not following the policy since BJP is a secular party in every sense of the word. This is why Nitish Kumar was part of the government and his government is sharing power in Bihar with BJP," he said.