PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar on Monday sent ripples across the spectrum of non-BJP parties by saying that he is not a contender for the prime minister’s post in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Kumar also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the BJP leader has the “capability” to lead the nation. Kumar also obliquely defended his ally and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav against the barrage of allegations levelled by BJP that his family members amassed huge wealth through dubious means.
“Hum nahin hain 2019 ke davedar. Hum itna bada murkh nahin hain. Humari chhoti si party hai… (I am not a contender for the PM’s post in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. I am not such a big fool. Mine is a small party.)” Kumar told journalists.
Claiming that all talks of his candidature for the prime minister’s post often set him thinking and surprise him, Kumar said: “My aspiration is to elevate JD(U) to the status of a national party. Is that a crime? But my personal aspiration is to serve Bihar and take it forward… I thank the people thinking so (PM candidature), but I have no aspiration in that direction”.
Nitish Kumar’s statements took many in the JD(U) by surprise as the party has often said openly that he is the “most suitable leader” for the PM post as the leader of a broad alliance of non-BJP parties in 2019.
When Kumar staged a seven-km walk in Motihari last month to recreate Mahatma Gandhi’s historic walk a hundred years ago, many JD(U) leaders and workers in that procession were heard chanting slogans about Kumar being the next prime minister.
“Nobody knows who will emerge as the PM candidate… Did anyone know Modiji five years ago? But the people saw capability in him and so Modiji is the prime minister today,” said the JD(U) stalwart.
“Who the people will see capable again will be known in future,” he added in a statement that many described as a signal that he may not have ruled himself out of the race totally.
On the charges levelled by BJP about RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s two minister sons and his daughter, a Rajya Sabha member, having acquired huge property through corruption, Kumar chided BJP. “Leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi and others are busy levelling charges even though RJD leaders are answering their questions. BJP leaders are doing this to stay in the news,” he said.
“If they (BJP) have such evidence of wrongdoing that will stand the scrutiny of law, then they should approach the proper authorities with those allegations,” said Nitish Kumar.
The State government has nothing to do with the BJP’s claims about alleged shell companies formed by Lalu Prasad Yadav’s family members to own prime land at several places because these charges come under the Companies Act, which comes under the Centre’s purview, he added.