Nitish has qualities to be PM but not in race: JD(U)

Numbers won't be problem for 'PM material' Nitish Kumar: JD(U)

The party is an ally of the BJP at the Centre as well as in the state

Nitish Kumar. Credit: PTI file photo

 An "ally with differences" JD(U) once again touched a raw nerve within the NDA on Monday with its leader Upendra Kushwaha asserting that "numbers would be no problem" for the “Prime Minister material” Nitish Kumar even as he made it clear that the party was not staking claim to the post.

The buzz about Nitish Kumar's larger plans at the national level got a fillip since Kushwaha, JD(U)'s Parliamentary Board Chairman on August 1 said Kumar has the potential and all the qualities to become the PM and that he should be called "PM material".

It got a further boost during the August 29 national council meeting of JD(U) when party general secretary K C Tyagi said, "Nitish Kumar is not a candidate for the post of the prime minister... But he (Kumar) certainly is a PM material."

 “Mission Nitish” was a key theme of the meet. 

Read | PM has to decide on caste-based census: Bihar CM Nitish

JD(U) has, in recent times, taken a contrarian stand from the BJP on a number of issues including caste census and population control Bill of Uttar Pradesh. After Nitish Kumar met INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala on August 1, Chautala said he would try to bring together all non-BJP parties and expressed confidence that some NDA allies, too, could join the Opposition bandwagon.  

Amidst all this, some BJP leaders in Bihar reacted sharply to the "PM material" remark by the JD(U), who said that one needed the support of 272 MPs to become the PM, and that the JD(U) was unlikely to win as many seats on its own.

Countering it, Kushwaha on Monday asked why it could not happen. "We are not making a claim to the PM’s post at present. We are with the NDA and acknowledge the leadership of Narendra Modi. But, if people talk about a hypothetical future, then nothing can be dismissed as impossible."

JD(U) has also made a pitch for better coordination in NDA, a pitch earlier raised by Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal in Modi's first tenure. Both the NDA allies are out of the ruling alliance now.

“The demand is right. There is a need for better coordination. It is true that we have been sharing power with the BJP for so many years. Yet, it does not look good when different people in the same party speak in different voices. Caste census is a case in point,” Kushwaha said.

This was a day after Tyagi had said, "The party would welcome setting up an NDA coordination committee to resolve various issues. During the period of Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, several works were done after setting up the coordination committee. We will be happy if a similar coordination committee is formed again at the central and state levels for smooth functioning of the government and to put a stop to unwarranted comments made by leaders of alliance partners."

Kumar was considered a potential challenger to Modi from the Opposition camp since he had walked out of NDA in 2013, snapping ties with BJP on the issues of the projection of Modi as that party's PM face and had defeated Modi-led BJP in 2015 Bihar Assembly elections after forging an alliance with RJD and Congress. 

But in 2017, he was back to NDA. After 2020 polls, BJP-JD(U) ties are not that warm amid a thinking in JD(U) that the saffron party propped late Ram Vilas Paswan's party against Nitish Kumar to undermine him.

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