Nitish non-committal on backing Kovind as Prez

Nitish non-committal on backing Kovind as Prez

Nitish non-committal on backing Kovind as Prez
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday neither confirmed nor denied whether the ruling Janata Dal (United) would support Governor Ramnath Kovind as the NDA presidential candidate. The CM, however, dropped some hint that he may eventually back the NDA nominee.

Nitish, who met Kovind in Raj Bhavan at around 4 pm, said, “I personally feel happy that Bihar Governor has been nominated as the NDA presidential candidate. As Chief Minister of the State, I went to congratulate him as it’s a matter of pride for us that the man holding gubernatorial post here will be the NDA presidential candidate.”

When specifically asked whether the JD (U) would support the NDA nominee, Nitish remained non-committal and said, “This question is not relevant as of now. I have spoken to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and RJD chief Lalu Prasad and conveyed my feelings to them.” He did not elaborate what transpired between him and the other leaders.

However, sources close to him said that Nitish was not averse to Kovind’s elevation as India’s President as he enjoyed a very cordial working relationship with Kovind ever since he was appointed Bihar Governor in 2015.

The Opposition plan to field its own candidate for Presidential poll started when Nitish met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in April in New Delhi where he mooted the idea that her party, being the largest outfit, should take a lead on this issue. Nitish suggested she should start with fielding a common Opposition candidate for the presidential election. It was against this backdrop that Sonia convened a meeting on May 26 and invited all the non-NDA parties, including Trinamool and the CPM. However, Nitish skipped Sonia’s luncheon meeting thereby making tongues wag. Eyebrows were raised further when he had a meeting the very next day with Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had invited Mauritius PM for lunch.

Sources argue that Nitish had since then made up his mind that if a consensus candidate could emerge from within the BJP, whose credentials could not be questioned, the JD (U) may go ahead with supporting the NDA nominee.

“When Nitish was with the NDA, he supported UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee in 2012. This time when he is with the Congress-led Opposition, he could stand by NDA’s nominee Kovind,” the source told Deccan Herald, dropping ample hint about fissures within the Grand Alliance on this issue.