Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley said there should be no controversy over the issue of the party's prime ministerial candidate as that would be akin to committing a "hit-wicket" and turn out to be the only possible reason for the main opposition losing the upcoming general elections.
Speaking at a conclave of BJP's legal and legislative cell, the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha indicated that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi should be declared BJP's PM candidate.
Enumerating the various problems plaguing the United Progressive Alliance government, he said, "Leadership is another issue affecting this (UPA) government. There is no effective leadership in UPA. Due to this people are looking at BJP". He stressed that the sooner the BJP announced its leader (read PM candidate), the better it would be for the party.
"Parliamentary elections at times also become (like) presidential elections, especially when the leader enjoys overwhelming popularity. This has happened in the case of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in the past," Jaitley said. He pointed out that if the next general election became a referendum on leadership, then the BJP was surely going to win.
However, he cautioned that any controversy over the leadership issue could cost the BJP the elections. "We should not get a hit-wicket. That is a scenario where nobody bowls you out, but you give your own wicket. That is the only way we are going to lose this election," he said, adding that the party should not create any "unnecessary controversy" on the leadership issue. He said the BJP has lost two consecutive elections but today the mood was in BJP's favour.
Jaitley has often insisted that the BJP needs to declare Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. However, some top leaders of the party are said to be strongly opposed to the idea, maintaining that Modi was a very polarising figure.
The issue of the party's PM candidate should be dealt with after the elections, he said. Jaitley said there was a strong anti-incumbency factor working against the UPA government, which would prove fatal for it.
"Anti-incumbency is a phenomenon in which the opposition wins as the government is thrown out by the people," he said.
Moving on, he rued how the BJP has been speaking in different voices on key issues, saying that had affected its image. "Our problem is that we have too many spokespersons. A person has been going on television channels claiming to be from the BJP youth wing. We have not been able to trace this spokesperson," he said.
His reference was to a person who reportedly went on a news channels claiming to be a member of the Yuva Morcha and defended controversial godman Asaram Bapu, who is facing charges of sexual assault.