Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said in Patna on Monday that choosing a leader of the proposed new front of regional parties was not important. The talks currently were centred on “a possible unity” of non-Congress, non-BJP parties.
“It is not important to select a leader for the front. We have to come together based on a common view. There is full possibility of a parliamentary block. What shape it will take and who will finally be part of it will be clear after the February 5 meeting,” Mr. Kumar told a press conference.
He identified the Communist Party of India and the Left as the only possible ally for the Janata Dal (United) if there is an alliance in Bihar. However, he did not comment on the CPI’s indication that Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa could be the PM candidate.
Mr. Kumar said talks are underway with several parties, namely the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (Secular), Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Biju Janata Dal, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Asom Gana Parishad and the Left parties.
“We are looking at a possible unity of non-Congress, non-BJP parties. It is not possible to have all such parties owing to practicalities. For instance, the [opposition between] the Left and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, and the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh. Only time will tell what shape this front will take,” he said.
Asked about a threat of division of secular vote, Mr. Kumar said, “The secular and democratic powers will unite and people who favour these ideals will not be divided.”
Mr. Kumar attacked his political rivals the Congress, BJP and Rashtriya Janata Dal. Asked if the prospective Congress-RJD alliance will repeat their 2004 success, he said, “The story and conditions of every election are different. They are going to lose badly. The political scenario is different in every State. There is no uniform pattern.”
He accused the Congress of stalling the process of according special status to Bihar under pressure from the RJD. “The special status efforts were in their final stages. But the Congress stalled it for political reasons owing to pressure from its ally.”
Taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi’s remark about endorsing ideas, not individuals, Mr. Kumar said the Congress and RJD were allies because they shared a common “idea”. The allusion is to the issue of corruption on which Mr. Gandhi has taken a strong stand.
On the controversy over Gujarat government’s BPL criteria, Mr. Kumar said such a definition was “unacceptable” and showed a “lack of understanding” of poverty.
Asked about several new entrants in the BJP, Mr. Kumar said despite being around for a long time, the party had a deficit of eligible candidates. “[When in alliance], we [JD (U)] would give them seats as well as candidates,” he quipped.
On the decision to honour cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar with the Bharat Ratna, Mr. Kumar said, “It is an honour for the player as well as the for sport and he is a fit candidate for this honour.”