Last Updated: January 04, 2024, 21:43 IST
The JD(U) supremo, who had accused the former ally of trying to split his party, vowed to bring all parties opposed to the BJP together, expressing the belief that such a coalition could trounce the mighty NDA. (PTI File)
The averment came from ministers Madan Sahni and Ratnesh Sada, both of whom had visited the JD(U)’s Bihar headquarters here for “Jan Sunwai”, a daily programme as part of which one or more members of the state cabinet interact with common people
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar deserved to be the prime ministerial candidate, and not merely the convenor of INDIA coalition, a couple of the JD(U) president’s close aides asserted here on Thursday.
The averment came from ministers Madan Sahni and Ratnesh Sada, both of whom had visited the JD(U)’s Bihar headquarters here for “Jan Sunwai”, a daily programme as part of which one or more members of the state cabinet interact with common people.
“Our leader has made it clear that he does not desire for himself any fancy-sounding designation in the coalition. But, since a response is being sought on the buzz that he may be made the convener, I would say why not make him the prime ministerial candidate”, Sahni told reporters. Sahni, who holds the crucial social welfare portfolio in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, also said, “All parties seem to agree that the JD(U) president is the most experienced and capable leader in the coalition. If he is given prominence, it will galvanize voters of Bihar and may also enthuse people elsewhere, who want a credible alternative to the BJP”.
The JD(U) leader, however, made it clear that his party was “not demanding anything for Nitish Kumar who is too tall a leader to need such backing”. “We are mindful of the alliance’s strategy not to announce a prime ministerial face and take a decision after the Lok Sabha polls. We fully respect that,” he said.
Ratnesh Sada, who holds the SC and ST welfare portfolio, said “Nitish Kumar is a leader who has endeared himself to the socially weaker sections in Bihar and elsewhere. He got the caste census done and followed it up with a hike in reservations, demonstrating that he meant business and was not paying lip service to the downtrodden”. Besides, Kumar’s vision of bottom-up development has been there for all to see with schemes like ‘Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal’ that brought piped water to every household, and Jal Jeevan Hariyali is proof that he cares about environmental degradation, Sada said.
“As such, making him the prime ministerial candidate will be of benefit not just to the JD(U) but all INDIA partners. I must make it clear, though, that we are not trying to press the demand,” he said. It was pointed to Sada that the BJP was trying to fish in troubled waters by alleging the RJD and the Congress, both JD(U)’s allies in the state, were against Nitish Kumar being given prominence.
He shot back: “It is the BJP which cannot stomach a backward leader like Nitish Kumar gaining prominence. There is no problem within the coalition. All issues, including seat-sharing, will be sorted out in good time”. Notably, Kumar, who had been a BJP ally, quit the NDA more than a year ago and formed a new government upon joining the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ that includes Congress, RJD and three Left parties.
The JD(U) supremo, who had accused the former ally of trying to split his party, vowed to bring all parties opposed to the BJP together, expressing the belief that such a coalition could trounce the mighty NDA. He visited several parts of the country to hold parleys with like-minded leaders of different parties and hosted a meeting here in June last year that laid the foundation for INDIA bloc.
The longest-serving CM of Bihar has been, of late, voicing concerns over the tardy pace at which things were moving in the new coalition. Last week, he formally took over as the national president of the JD(U), in a move that may be seen as his willingness to play a more proactive role in the Lok Sabha elections. Allies and adversaries alike have been taking note of a newfound aggression in the JD(U), as evident from its senior leader K C Tyagi’s assertion, after Kumar took over, that the Bihar CM was “ideological convener and ideological prime minister of INDIA”.
The JD(U) also seems to have decided to steal a march by declaring its candidate for one of the two Lok Sabha seats in Arunachal Pradesh, and having dropped hints that it wanted to field Bihar legislative council Chairman Devesh Chandra Thakur from Sitamarhi.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)