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Nitish rules out possibility of simultaneous elections for Centre and state

In the national context, we should strive for the maximum possible unity among parties active in different states.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2016 07:46 IST
Prashant Jha
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (PTI Photo)

Nitish Kumar is in the news for his support for the demonetisation drive. On the sidelines of the HT Leadership Summit, he spoke to HT. Excerpts:

PM Modi has pushed the idea of simultaneous elections for the Centre and the state. How do you see the proposal?

This is not a new thing. Elections were simultaneous earlier. It changed after 1967. Now to do it, without consensus, is difficult. If you say that you will hold elections for an assembly before time, there is no provision in the Constitution for it. This is not possible till the assembly itself agrees. You cannot make a law and do it.

“But if you really want to solve corruption and back economy, then demonetisation alone will not be able to do it. This is the right moment to hit benami property and ban liquor trade nationally.”

But feasibility is one issue, desirability is another. Is it desirable?

If it is not feasible, then why discuss desirability? What we need is wider reform, transparent functioning of parties, and a proper procedure for expenditure of parties.

You supported demonetisation. Was this because of moral, economic or political reasons?

The central government said this will help tackle corruption, black money and terrorism, extremist activities and counterfeit currency. If the centre feels there are such advantages, then we should support it. People then got inconvenienced, and voices were heard they should have prepared more for it. But if you really want to solve corruption and back economy, then demonetisation alone will not be able to do it. This is the right moment to hit benami property and ban liquor trade nationally.

Have you opened the doors for BJP?

How? Where can you see the door? Supporting an issue is one thing. If some are finding political meaning in it, it is their problem.

Till last year you were the leader of the anti-Modi space in the polity. Today, it is Mamata Banerjee.

This is all impractical. If you want to create an alternative, then one will have to rise above these sentiments – of I can capture this space, or he can capture this space. That is not important at all. If you keep a person in the forefront, then nothing will happen. There are so many parties; who will accept someone else. Every party has a leader; the cadre of that party thinks his leader is the best. Any alternative that is created can only be on the basis of issues.

Do you think there can be such a wider alliance for 2019?

You know I keep trying. I will keep making an effort. But to interpret a particular view on a particular issue, find political meaning in it, and then spoil the political atmosphere on the basis of it in the opposition camp is wrong. This should not happen.

How important is the UP election for national politics?

Every state election is important. You saw the victory in Delhi elections, then the Bihar elections. In Assam, Congress did not ally with anyone, and BJP won. So after two losses, the BJP was demoralised but then its morale got lifted.

So is the lesson that there should be an alliance?

Yes, of course. In the national context, we should strive for the maximum possible unity among parties active in different states. We know that unity of all is not possible – for instance, we know the SP-BSP, or DMK-AIADMK dynamic. We may not see the kind of liberal attitude that RJD and JDU showed to each other in all other places. So we should aim for maximum possible unity.

Read| Nitish backs demonetisation, but says Centre should have done its homework