Allies attack Nitish over Prez nominee

Allies attack Nitish over Prez nominee

 The anger against the JD(U) for breaking ranks with the Opposition by announcing its support to BJP’s Presidential candidate is growing with allies, the Congress and the RJD, attacking Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The Congress on Monday questioned Nitish’s “principles” while the RJD has been relentless in its attack on the chief minister for the past few days, prompting the JD(U) to warn that fire would spread if not doused.

The Congress, which has so far avoided strong words against Nitish, said the JD(U) chief made the “first call” to defeat a Dalit candidate from his own state.

Nitish, despite mooting the idea of a united Opposition candidate in the Presidential polls, had announced his party’s support to BJP nominee Ram Nath Kovind. The Opposition then chose former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, the daughter of Dalit icon Jagjivan Ram, who is from Bihar, to counter the Dalit card played by the BJP as also to put Nitish in a tight spot.

This prompted Nitish to say that the Opposition was fielding the “daughter of Bihar” only to lose. In a sharp retort, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Monday, “People who believe in one principle make one decision, but those who believe in many principles make different decisions.”

“Our aim is not to get (our candidate) defeated, he (Nitish) is doing it. He made the first announcement to defeat a Dalit leader,” Azad added.

So far, no senior Congress leader has commented on Nitish’s move in public and Azad’s reference to “principles” showed the anger in his party. The Opposition leaders also indicated that such comments showed that it would not be easy for Nitish to crawl back to a prominent position among the Opposition.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad's son and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav also waded into the controversy as he made a veiled attack against Nitish on social media, describing his move “blatant opportunism and ego-centric behaviour”. RJD vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said that Nitish’s decision has come as a setback to the efforts to put up a grand alliance at the national level.

An upset Nitish fielded party spokesperson Ajay Alok to warn the Opposition. “Our leader has made his stand clear on Kovind. But RJD leaders are constantly adding fuel to the fire. It is up to the RJD president to douse the flames. Otherwise, in this scorching summer, it (bitter acrimony) will spread like wildfire,” Alok said.

The NCP's sole MP from Bihar, Tariq Anwar, also supported other parties saying, "Nitish should have waited for a day before announcing his support to either of the presidential nominees. 

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