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India: JD-U projects Nitish as main challenger to PM Modi

Bihar chief minister says he has all the qualities of prime minister, as party gives him backing to explore options for broad anti-BJP front

Gulf News

Patna: The ruling Janata Dal United (JD-U) in Bihar has projected chief minister Nitish Kumar as the perfect “challenger” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he has all the qualities to take up India’s top job.

The party also authorised the chief minister to explore options for a broad anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) front across the country, to take on Modi in the next polls due in 2019.

It was over the issue of prime ministership that Kumar is said to have broken off his party’s 17-year-old association with the BJP in 2013.

The latest resolutions were taken at a two-day meeting of the JD-U’s national council, which concluded on Monday.

The meeting was held at Rajgir in Nalanda, which is the home district of the chief minister.

Some 1,500 delegates drawn from 23 states took part in the meeting.

“Nitish Kumar is a popular leader, who possesses all the qualities of a PM. The entire country is looking at him with great expectations to provide leadership through his foresight, efficiency, honesty, sincerity and non-dynastic attitude,” the party’s national spokesperson K.C. Tyagi told journalists on Monday.

He said although the JD-U was not so big to project Kumar him for country’s top job yet he remains to be the key contenders for PM’s post.

“Although our party doesn’t have national presence, Nitish Kumar is one of the main contenders for PM’s post in the country,” Tyagi claimed.

The move assumes significance given the fact that the India’s main opposition, the Congress party, has been trying hard to project party’s vice-president Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial face of a potential anti-BJP front.

Only recently, Gandhi concluded his monthlong “Khaat sabha” (meetings on charpoys) in Uttar Pradesh during which he undertook a 2,500km-long tour of the state.

Uttar Pradesh goes to polls early next year.

Kumar in his capacity as the JD-U’s national president, on the other hand, has held around six election rallies in UP, trying hard to gain a foothold in the state.

Right now, JD-U has no presence outside Bihar. Even in Bihar, the Kumar government rules with the support of Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) which has more seats in the state than JD-U’s.

Meanwhile, JD-U has only two members in 545-Member Lok Sabha. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the party fielded its candidates on all 40 seats in Bihar but managed to win only two — a loss of 18 seats in the massive Modi wave.