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BJP's ally NPP sees potential in Nitish to unseat saffron party from power

Press Trust of India, Shillong, Feb 2 2018, 19:02 IST
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had severed his ties with the RJD and Congress in the Grand Alliance last year and joined hands with the BJP to form a coalition government in the state. PTI Photo

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had severed his ties with the RJD and Congress in the Grand Alliance last year and joined hands with the BJP to form a coalition government in the state. PTI Photo

The National People's Party (NPP), an ally of the BJP at the Centre, today said JD(U) president Nitish Kumar was the only person who could unseat the saffron party from power and not Rahul Gandhi.

The NPP and the BJP, although allies at the Centre and in Manipur, where the two are running the governments together, are contesting the February 27 Meghalaya Assembly polls separately.

The NPP, headed by Conrad P Sangma, son of former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma, is a constituent in the BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a coalition that was formed in 2016.

"The way I am looking at it from the north-east, the only person who can unseat the BJP is Nitish Kumar," state NPP president W R Kharlukhi told reporters here.

"I am telling you, maybe in 2019, Nitish Kumar will be the prime minister. Mark my words," he added.

Kharlukhi, however, said, "I will leave it to the intelligence of the Congress...But the way I am assessing the political situation in India, that is the only solution for them, not Rahul Gandhi."

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had severed his ties with the RJD and Congress in the Grand Alliance last year and joined hands with the BJP to form a coalition government in the state.

Once considered a potential political rival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kumar's JD(U) is now part of the ruling NDA at the Centre.

The NPP has released the names of 52 candidates in poll-bound Meghalaya, while the BJP made public its first list of 45 candidates in the north-eastern state today.

The poll results for the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly will be declared on March 3, along with the outcome of the Tripura and Nagaland Assembly polls.

According to Kharlukhi, there was nothing unusual in the two parties parting ways for the Meghalaya polls.

He pointed out that the NPP was part of the UPA, when party MP Agatha Sangma was made a minister, but the party fought against the Congress in the 2013 Meghalaya election.

"We are very clear that we are a party of our own. We have our own ideology. The NPP is the National People's Party, while the BJP is the Bharatiya Janata Party," Kharlukhi said.

Reacting to the allegation of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma that the NPP was funded by the BJP, he said, "The chief minister said it as if he was the treasurer of the BJP. Only the treasurer will know how much money is coming in and going out of the BJP."

Alleging that Meghalaya had suffered under the Congress rule, the NPP leader said the ruling party was levelling false allegations, hoping that it would not have to show to the people what they had done in all these years.

"It is a real pity that Meghalaya is ranked at the bottom of all the small states in every sector today. In general, it is on number 10 out of 10 states. In law-and-order, it is ranked 9, if you take tourism, it is ranked 10, in the states' economy, it is ranked 9, in health, it is ranked 8, except for agriculture where it is ranked 4," he said.

Stating that states like Nagaland were doing better than Meghalaya, Kharlukhi said the state had performed badly in education as well, even though it was known as an education hub.

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