New Delhi, Sep 10 (IANS) The BJP Monday did not reject or endorse remarks of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray backing Sushma Swaraj as NDA's prime ministerial candidate but said the issue will be discussed by the party closer to general elections and an appropriate decision taken.
Answering a volley of questions on Thackeray's remarks, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the party will take an "appropriate decision at the appropriate time".
"When elections come, it will be appropriate to discuss the issue at that time," he said.
Hussain said that in a democracy, everyone had the right to air their views.
Asked about differing voices within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on the issue, Hussain said the alliance was united.
"There is no debate on this issue. The next government will be of the NDA," he said.
Hussain also sought to take a dig at the Congress, saying that the party should first declare who was its prime ministerial candidate.
"First ruling party should tell us who is its prime ministerial candidate," he said.
Thackeray had Sunday expressed admiration for Sushma Swaraj and termed her best to become the next prime minister.
"Presently, she is the most suited to the top post. I think she will make a dashing prime minister," he said in an interview published in the party mouthpiece "Saamna".
"There is a long queue for the post of prime minister. Only Sushma (Swaraj) is deserving, intelligent and could make an excellent choice for prime minister," Thackeray said, seeming to curb hopes of other leaders like Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar or Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Thackeray's comments indicated that his party may not favour Modi as NDA's prime ministerial candidate. Another NDA ally Janata Dal-United had earlier expressed its reservations over projecting Modi as the prime ministerial candidate of the alliance.
Modi is among BJP leaders along with Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and party chief Nitin Gadkari who are seen in party circles as potential prime ministerial candidates. Party veteran Lal Krishna Advani has also not ruled himself out.
BJP leaders have privately expressed surprise over the timing of Thackeray's pitch for Sushma Swaraj and said it was the first time an ally has openly backed a party leader for the prime minister's post.
However, they said Thackeray's remarks were unlikely to queer the pitch as the party was determined to steer clear of the potentially explosive issue till the time of elections.
The leaders said that all options were open for the party on announcing a prime ministerial candidate and the party may also decide against projecting a leader.
They said the BJP leadership will factor in stance of the Congress and whether the party projects Rahul Gandhi as prime ministerial candidate for 2014 elections.