Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday denied giving an interview to a local daily in which he was quoted as saying that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should declare its Prime Ministerial candidate.

“Based on a report in the Dainik Bhaskar, an ABP news channel reported on the Chief Minister’s statement on the BJP’s choice of a Prime Ministerial candidate. The Chief Minister has not given any such interview,” Mr. Kumar said in an official statement.

He also told a news channel that he was not aware about the interview being carried in the paper and learnt about it from the public relations officer.

A channel reported on the purported interview, where he was quoted as saying, “The general elections should be contested in the same manner as was done when Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s name was put forward. There are demands for declaring the Prime Ministerial candidate from the BJP. Till now, the party has not officially declared a candidate.” Mr. Kumar runs a coalition government in Bihar with the BJP’s support. His party, the Janata Dal (United), is a key ally of the BJP in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Asked about Mr. Kumar’s reported statement, JD (U) State president Bashishtha Narayan Singh told The Hindu, “Mr. Kumar had given an interview to an English paper a while ago. I think this interview is simply based on that. Mr. Kumar has issued his denial. There is no change in his stand on the Prime Ministerial candidate. So what’s all the fuss about? He made an ideological statement. First the BJP will decide, then the NDA will decide. A few stray statements don’t decide a Prime Minister.”

In an earlier interview, Mr. Kumar had said that he wanted a “secular” candidate to be nominated for the Prime Minister’s position.