Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha Monday endorsed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate of the party.
Party President Rajnath Singh said the parliamentary board of the party will take a decision on the matter, while former party president M. Venkaiah Naidu said Sinha was only expressing a personal view.
"Wherever I go, common people and party workers say they want Narendra Modi to be the prime ministerial candidate from the BJP and the party will benefit from it," Sinha had told reporters here.
"After considering all aspects, I too feel that if BJP declares him the prime minister candidate, it will make a huge difference to the party," he said, adding that this was his personal view.
The BJP has so far maintained silence on the issue.
Asked if ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U) would agree to the choice of Modi as the candidate for the top post, Sinha said he was reflecting the mood of the people and partners should accept it.
"I am reflecting the mood of the country, and the mood of the BJP. JD-U is a different party. My personal view is that if BJP leadership were to project a prime ministerial candidate, other partners should accept that and not make an issue of it," Sinha said.
"I refuse to accept the theory that some people in the BJP are secular and some are communal... that is a flawed argument I refuse to accept."
JD-U, the second largest party in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has opposed Modi's selection as the prime ministerial candidate of the alliance, saying he lacks secular credentials.
Asked about Sinha's comments, party President Rajnath Singh said the decision will be taken by the party's parliamentary board.
"I have not seen his statement, so I will not comment. The parliamentary board of the party will decide who will be our prime ministerial candidate," Rajnath Singh told reporters in Nagpur.
On similar lines, senior party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said: "He (Sinha) has expressed his personal views... The party will discuss the issue and take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time."
"There is no hurry as Lok Sabha polls are some time away. The issue will be first discussed within the party and then talks will be held with allies," he said.
He also said that there is no controversy in the BJP on the issue of selecting a prime ministerial candidate.
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi refused to comment, saying it was an "internal matter" of the BJP.
He added: "They can have a prime minister only when they get a majority in parliament. Such a possibility doesn't seem remotely possible."