New Delhi/ Patna: Rift in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over Narendra Modi widened on Wednesday with the JD(U) threatening to walk out of the alliance if a “fanatic face” is projected as NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate.

Hitting back, the BJP asserted that no one can give a fatwa on who is secular and joining the issue, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Wednesday hit out at the Bihar Chief Minister, saying he was pandering to his vote bank.

“Nitish Kumar has said NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 elections should be secular. He has made the statement so that his vote bank remains intact,” Bhagwat told a meeting of RSS volunteers here.

According to those present in the meeting which was out of bounds for the media, Bhagwat also described Hinduism as an “all-inclusive” religion and wondered why a “Hinduwadi” should not become the Prime Minister.

“Hinduism is the religion of humanism. You are right and we are also right, Hinduism follows this broad philosophy,” he was quoted as having said.

To keep alive the Hindu ideology, the Hindu ‘samaaj’ should come together and the country should have a prime minister who believes in that ideology or propounds that view, he is reported to have said.

In Delhi, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said that Hindutva is the “true synonym” for secularism and is liberal as it embraces all other religions.

“To portray it (Hindutva) as anti-secular is not correct and narrow minded. Hindutva is the true synonym for secularism… We have always felt that Hindutva is the ideological anchor of RSS and it is liberal, all embracing and a secular idea,” he told reporters.

He also said that what its chief Mohan Bhagwat said while addressing its swayamsevaks should not be viewed in the context of the present political situation in the country.

“It is uncalled for to link his view to day-to-day happenings on the political front and statements of certain leaders,” Madhav said.

Tiwari’s comments irks BJP

After Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s strong pitch for a “secular” Prime Ministerial candidate for NDA in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, his party general secretary Shivanand Tiwari took the anti-Modi tone in JD (U) to a new decibel.

NDA cannot come to power with a “fanatic face” and JD (U) will not compromise on principles on which it had joined the Opposition alliance in 1996, Tiwari told reporters here.

He said that surveys indicate that had the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee dismissed Modi government in Gujarat for the post-Godhara riots in 2002, NDA would have still been in power and not lost the 2004 general elections.

“People who voted for BJP due to liberal face of Vajpayee went away from it after Gujarat riots and the floating votes went to Congress because people do not accept fanatic politics.

“Those people in BJP who want the party to come to power will have to realise that they cannot do it by putting a fanatic face in the front,” Tiwari said in an apparent reference to Modi.

He said history tells that whenever India has been ruled by secular forces, it has developed and whenever fascist forces have taken over, it has suffered. He gave the examples of Akbar and Ashoka on the one hand and Aurangzeb on the other.

Without naming the Bihar Chief Minister for terming Hindutva as not being secular, Madhav said everyone has the right to put forth their views in democracy, but maintained that secularism and Hindutva are not opposed to each other.

Kumar had said yesterday that the NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate should be somebody with “secular credentials”, in an apparent bid to give a thumbs down to his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi who is being touted as the first choice of the BJP for the PM’s post.

The Bihar Chief Minister has yesterday stressed that the NDA should declare its Prime Ministerial candidate in advance saying, “this leader should be acceptable to every constituent of the alliance. To me, the leader of the coalition should have secular credentials.”

Kumar has made known his unease with Narendra Modi a number of times earlier because of which the Gujarat Chief Minister was kept away from campaigning in Bihar during the last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.