PATNA: The ruling Janata Dal United (JD-U) in Bihar has launched fresh attempts to project chief minister Nitish Kumar as the opposition’s Prime Ministerial candidate, claiming only he can defeat Narendra Modi in the next 2019 general elections.
The party launched the move in the aftermath of the Congress party suffering embarrassing defeat in the just-held assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and then badly failing to form governments in Goa and Manipur despite emerging as the largest single party in the elections. Apparently, the JD-U questions the “leadership” quality of the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi under whose stewardship the party had gone to polls.
Under part of this strategy, the JD-U leadership has begun highlighting the statements of top Indian politicians who “endorsed” the PM candidature of Kumar in the past at different forums. Leaders like Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) chief Babulal Marandi have described Kumar as “PM materials”. Encashing upon these positive statements, the JD-U leadership now wants to get support of other opposition parties too in its sedate campaign to project Kumar as PM candidate.
Kumar who also happens to be the national JD-U president heads the ruling Grand Alliance (GA) comprising the RJD, JD-U and the Congress party. Prior to joining the GA, Kumar’s party was a key ally of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and both stayed together for close to two decades before the JD-U boss himself broke alliance with the saffron camp ahead of the last 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The idea got a further boost when Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav lent his full support to the Nitish’s PM candidature in the weekend. “Speaker Sir, only a Bihari (a resident of Bihar) will stop the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections. Only a Bihari will defeat Modi in the next general elections,” was how Tejashwi said while speaking in the Bihar assembly on Saturday. The observations assume significance given the fact that he happens to be the son of RJD president.
JD-U’s fresh campaign for its party chief began shortly after the results of the UP elections came in on March 11. The Congress whose prestige was much at stake in the polls ended up winning only seven seats out of 114 seats it had contested in alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP). In the last 2012 assembly polls, the Congress which had gone it alone had won 28 seats in UP.
The “Nitish for PM” idea which was pushed up by two JD-U lawmakers at once got the sacking of the party’s national general secretary KC Tyagi who said, “It’s true that my party is small and has few members in the parliament but it’s also a fact that there is no other credible face in the opposition except Nitish Kumar”.
Law minister Krishnandan Prasad Verma soon followed suit, claiming Kumar is the lone alternative for the opposition and that the entire opposition should come on a single platform and launch campaign for LS polls right from today. Water resources minister Lalan Singh, Minister for Science and Technology Jai Kumar Singh and Minister for Urban Development and Housing Maheshwar Hajari have already lent their full support to this campaign.
The JD-U is least bothered about its thin presence in the Lok Sabha where it has only two members and not-so-spectacular show in the November 2015 Bihar state polls where it got less number of seats than its ally, the RJD. “What’s significant is that there is no credible face in the opposition camp to take on Modi except for Nitish Kumar,” claims the JD-U.
However, the problem before Kumar is that its very own ally, the Congress has opposed the move. The Congressmen say Rahul Gandhi will head the opposition’s campaign in the next general elections saying success and defeat are part and parcel of democratic politics.
Story Courtesy: Gulf News, Dubai