‘Has Bihar ki beti been chosen to lose,’ asks Nitish on Oppn’s presidential pick | india-news | Hindustan Times
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‘Has Bihar ki beti been chosen to lose,’ asks Nitish on Oppn’s presidential pick

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar stuck to his stand of supporting the NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, saying the election should not become an issue of confrontation.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2017 12:37 IST
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar(PTI Photo)

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar faced fresh calls from ally and RJD chief Lalu Prasad and opposition parties to reconsider the JD(U)’s support to NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind but he stood his ground.

Describing the Congress-led opposition nominee Meira Kumar as “Bihar ki Beti” (daughter of Bihar), Prasad appealed to Kumar for the second time in two days to “mend the historic blunder” in extending the JD(U)’s backing to Kovind. Meira Kumar’s candidature was announced on Thursday.

Kovind was the governor of Bihar before being chosen as the NDA nominee for the July 17 presidential polls billed as a ‘Dalit versus Dalit’ contest.

The CPI also urged Kumar as well as BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik to re-consider their decision to support Kovind.

But Kumar stuck to his stand, saying the presidential election should not become an issue of confrontation.

“It is an election for President. It should not become an issue of confrontation,” he told reporters after visiting Prasad’s residence.

“There is no doubt about the result. We have lot of respect for ‘Bihar Ki Beti’ (Meira Kumar). But the question is has Bihar Ki Beti been chosen to lose?”

Kumar said the decision to support Kovind was taken at the meeting of JD(U)’s core committee.

“We have taken this decision after thinking on all aspects. And as far as JD(U) is concerned, it has always taken independent decisions, even when we were a part of NDA. We supported Pranab Mukherjee as the UPA candidate that time.”

Stating that the President’s chair is not for political battle, Kumar said, “Had there been consensus, it would have been a good thing but I do not think it should be a matter of debate.”

“I had met Ram Nath Kovind and then had a word with Sonia ji and Sitaram Yechuri ji and I told them about my emotions that Ram Nath Kovind ji had a praise worthy role in Bihar as the governor. He had worked in Bihar without any bias.”

Prasad earlier in the day said that the opposition parties are still treading on the path Nitish Kumar had suggested to make the country ‘Sangh-mukt’.

“...don’t know what made Kumar to move away and extend support to a RSS man,” he told reporters on his arrival at the JayAprakash Narayan Airport at Patna from New Delhi.

Later in the evening, Prasad when asked if he had talks with Nitish Kumar said, “This is not the occasion to speak on such subjects.”

The CPI also urged Kumar as well as BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik to re-consider their decision to support Kovind.

“We appeal to both the chief ministers of Odisha and Bihar to re-consider their decision and support a secular candidate like Meira Kumar. Above all, both BJD and JD(U) are not part of the BJP-led NDA,” CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy told reporters in Bhubaneswar.

Reddy, accompanied by CPI national secretary Dr K Narayanana, said they hope both Patnaik and Kumar will have a rethink before casting their vote in favour of Kovind, whom they described as a “Sangha Parivar member.”

“We do not know the reasons behind both Patnaik and Kumar supporting the NDA candidate,” Reddy said adding, the CPI will contact the BJD and JD(U) before the presidential polls.

Stating that the country needs a secular person to become the President in the backdrop of attacks on dalits and minorities since the NDA government assumed office at the Centre, Reddy said opposition parties have fielded Meira Kumar keeping her background in consideration.

“She (Meira Kumar) has been the Speaker of Lok Sabha, having knowledge on external affairs matters and above all the daughter of Jagjivan Ram,” Reddy pointed out.

He said the BJP’s three-member committee had asked the CPI about its suggestion for a Presidential candidate.

“We had suggested the name of Gopalkrishna Gandhi and they (BJP) said about meeting again. But, they announced the name of Ram Nath Kovind without consulting us,” Reddy said, criticising the BJP for not going for a consensus candidate for the top post.

Asked why Gandhi was not made a candidate by the opposition for the presidential election, the CPI leader said, “We had just suggested the name of Gandhi. Had the BJP agreed on it, we would have supported him.”

According to Left sources, it was also surprising that the names they considered were “not even discussed and proposed” when the Opposition leaders met in Delhi on Thursday to decide their joint candidate

Ahead of the meeting, the Left parties had decided to propose Gandhi, who is Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, and B R Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash.

They claimed that leaders of the JD(U) -- which had earlier pitched for Opposition unity, but is supporting Kovind’s candidature -- are also of the view that a non- Congress contender “would have been better,” the sources said.

The sources suggested that fielding a Congress candidate is something that will come in the way of bringing the JD(U) back to the Opposition flock notwithstanding her being from Bihar.

“There is a feeling that some non-Congress contender should have been considered,” the sources said.