The politics over chief minister Nitish Kumar’s possible projection as a PM candidate in the next Lok Sabha poll has begun in Bihar, with the first sign of fissure appearing in the ruling Grand Alliance (GA) even before things take a concrete shape.
After RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his son deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav backed Kumar and the Bihar CM himself came into focus with his ‘Sanghmukt Bharat’ remark, another GA constituent, the Congress, struck a discordant note, terming the exercise as ‘premature’.
Party leaders also made it clear the Congress had its own PM candidate.
“For the Congress, Rahul Gandhi is the PM candidate. Every party wants to see its leader as the PM. RJD wants to see Lalu Prasad there. JD(U) wants Nitish Kumar. That is quite natural,” said Bihar Congress president Ashok Choudhary.
Barely a year ago, the Congress had backed Kumar as the chief ministerial face of a secular alliance in Bihar assembly polls, even before the GA could formally take shape.
However, for the PM’s post, the party leaders did not seem to feel the need to look beyond Rahul Gandhi.
Choudhary’ s statement comes close on the heels of senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad’s remark that JD(U) was a regional party and national politics was quite different.
Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Sadanand Singh reiterated that for the Congress, there was just one choice for the top post.
“In Bihar, the party has a regional alliance. But in politics, how the situation will shape up, one cannot say at this stage. There is no point raising any controversy at this stage. In Congress, the ultimate decision is that of the high command. We are in no position to speak on hypothetical questions. It is too early to deliberate on such issues,” he added.
Former Bihar CLP leader Ashok Kumar said the Congress was a national party. “Wherever the party feels, it goes in for an alliance. For the party, Rahul Gandhi remains the only choice for PM,” he said.
The Congress overtures are on predictable lines in the wake of Nitish Kumar trying to emerge as a rallying force on the national scene against the BJP after a successful experiment of the Grand Alliance in Bihar.