Gadkari's statement has come against the backdrop of comments by BJP secretary Balbir Punj against the JD-U on Monday. Punj had said the BJP has not outsourced to anybody to define who is secular and prime ministerial material in the party.
"The BJP is of the opinion that notwithstanding the divergence of opinion in the NDA on the issue of the Presidential election, the NDA has performed a historic role and shall continue to do so in order to navigate the country out of its present problems," Gadkari said. He maintained each constituent of the NDA "mutually respects" the stand taken by other coalition partners.
"I request all the party functionaries and other friends and the NDA to exercise restraint while speaking on NDA-related issues," Gadkari said.
Sources said Gadkari's statement has come in the wake of strains in relations between the JD-U and the BJP. The rift started with the presidential elections when the JD-U batted for a consensus and said it would support United Progressive Alliance [ Images ] candidate Pranab Mukherjee [ Images ] while the BJP was firm on contesting the poll.
The chasm widened when Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar attacked his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi [ Images ], saying the NDA prime ministerial candidate should have secular credentials and be acceptable to all allies.
Amid escalating tensions between the two allies, JD-U President Sharad Yadav on Monday discussed the issue with Gadkari and the two agreed to cool down tempers.
Yadav and the JD-U were irked by Punj's comment that the BJP has not outsourced responsibility of defining who is secular. He took up the matter with Gadkari to "restrain" such members in his party when a "ceasefire" has been drawn on the issue.
"What was the need for such an untimely and illogical statement by the BJP MP who is also the in-charge of Gujarat for his party affairs? I have talked to BJP President Nitin
Gadkari. He should restrain such persons. Such unnecessary talks should not happen," Yadav, who is NDA convener, said.
The JD-U president pointed out that his party has already drawn a "ceasefire" by asking its members to consult either him or Nitish Kumar before speaking out.
Renewing the war of words between the BJP and JD-U over the issue of Narendra Modi's projection, Punj had on Sunday said in Vadodra that Modi was the "prime minister material" and criticised opponents who questioned Modi's secular credentials.
JD-U general secretary Shivanand Tewari had earlier added fuel to the fire when he said NDA cannot come to power with a "fanatic face". He had also justified the UPA's economic policies saying the country's economy would have been no better had even BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad been Finance Minister.
As the war of words intensified, senior JD-U leaders had on Saturday advised its spokespersons to consult them before speaking out. Yadav categorically said the support of the JD-U to UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee is "no indication of any rift in the NDA".