Kovind has no 'RSS taint', Nitish tells Opposition

Kovind has no 'RSS taint', Nitish tells Opposition

Kovind has no 'RSS taint', Nitish tells Opposition
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has told opposition leaders that Ram Nath Kovind chosen by the BJP for President's post is "not a RSS swayamsewak."

Rather, Kovind has had no strong connection whatsoever with the RSS, according to him.
Explaining his "predicament" as to why he has to back Kovind, Kumar told some Congress and his own party leaders that Kovind's interactions with the RSS were rather limited during his political journey in the BJP, having joined it only in the early 1990s.

Secondly, Kumar said, he has had excellent working relationship with Kovind as his state governor.
Unlike, other BJP-appointed governors who have made things difficult for some non-BJP chief ministers, Kovind had never once created any problem for him, Kumar said.

Kumar's explanation, though, is not cutting much ice with the Congress and Left leaders -- as they find his stand quite surprising, considering that it was he who had wanted Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to take the initiative to unite the opposition ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls.

According to some Janata Dal(United) leaders close to Kumar, the opposition leaders must realise that Kovind was helped by successive Congress governments between 1980-1993 when he remained their standing counsel in the Supreme Court. So much so, he was even "retained" as standing counsel by the Narasimha Rao government despite joining the BJP in 1991.

The JD(U) leaders said their assessment was that Modi picked Kovind despite his not-so-strong RSS links, arguing that there was no Dalit leader of stature  from UP for the post. Kumar conveyed to his party leaders that he would not like to be seen as blocking a candidate who was governor of his state.

Many JD(U) leaders, however, conceded that Kumar's U-turn could not be just one episode, considering his equations with the alliance partner, Rashtriya Lok Dal, headed by Lalu Prasad, are not too good.

Last January, Prime Minister Narendra Modihad had publicly praised Kumar's alcohol ban in Bihar, saying that it was an important goal.  With Lalu and his family members under the scanner by Central agencies for tax violations and holding benami properties, his party's relationship with Kumar could face more trouble. Bihar BJP leaders have repeatedly said they would not mind backing Kumar if he snapped ties with the RJD.

Ironically, Kumar's ties with BJP, which was then an alliance partner, took a nose dive when he had backed Pranab Mukherjee's candidature in the 2012 presidential polls though he was a member of the National Democratic Alliance. Kumar refused to back opposition's contender, PA Sangma. A year later,  the JD(U) broke its 17-year alliance with BJP after Narendra Modi was declared the saffron party’s prime ministerial candidate.

In 2015, Kumar buried the hatchet  with Lalu to form an alliance. Kumar has repeatedly denied allegations -- including from Lalu's party and the Congress -- that he is approaching a union with the BJP.