Describing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as being "impeccably secular, honest and fully qualified" to become the prime minister, senior lawyer and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Ram Jethmalani on Saturday said the Bharatiya Janata Party should announce his candidature for the top post before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
"Modi is honest, possesses administrative ability and is fully qualified to become the prime minister. He is the BJP's best bet for the top post," Jethmalani told reporters.
"The BJP must announce its candidature for the PM's post as the people are expecting this from the party. Announcing it after the polls will be counter-productive," Jethmalani said, adding that those opposing Modi's name want the "corrupt" United Progressive Alliance government to continue in power.
Even in the past, Jethmalani had advocated Modi as the candidate for the prime minister's post.
Asked whether he has talked to the Gujarat CM over the issue, Jethmalani said he had not met Modi for a long time.
About the public debate on Modi's secular credentials, he said, "Modi's critics should read the Indian Constitution carefully, in which the definition of secularism is given. Those who do not understand it, raise the issue of secularism."
"'Secular and communal have become words of abuse today. People are using them indiscriminately without even understanding what they mean or signify. Modi is the most impeccably secular leader in India. In fact, he is hundred per cent secular," the senior advocate said.
People need to understand the meaning of Hindutva, which is secular in nature, he said.
Replying to a question on the 2002 Gujarat riots, he said, "Modi's enemies are tarnishing his image through false claims to deliberately put him down."