Slamming Modi's poularity, Nitish has been quoted as saying, "NDA should declare its candidate in advance. This leader should be acceptable to every constituent of the alliance. To me, the leader of the coalition should have secular credentials. It should be someone who has absolute faith in democratic values." RSS had supported Modi and slammed Nitish on his "secular PM" comment.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had commented, "NDA should have a PM who propounds hindutwa. Nitish Kumar is scared to call himself a Hindu."
With the rift between the NDA all but evident JD(U) stuck to its stand and came down heavily on Modi and the RSS for its lambasts against Nitish Kumar and his party. He said, "Vajpayee was not happy with the way Modi handled the riots in 2004 and that this was the primary reason that the NDA lost power."
The BJP is trying hard to downplay the rift by saying that Nitish was only airing his opinion and that what is secular and what is not is debatable. JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari also added, "We have an alliance with the BJP and not with Modi. Whether we remain in the NDA or not, we will not compromise on secularism." He declared that the NDA lost the 2004 and 2009 election since all the secular votes went to the UPA. The JD(U) was critical of Modi's RSS support citing that this was expected since Modi was an RSS person.
Tiwari also claimed that Vajpayee wanted Modi removed from Chief Ministyership post 2002 riots but did not do so after request from senior BJP leaders.