The Congress voted for Nitish Kumar’s government in Bihar as his step weakened the communal hold of the NDA in the country, Shakeel Ahmed, All India Congress Committee general secretary, said at a press conference here on Saturday.
He said there was “no connection” between the voting on the no-confidence motion and the perceived proximity between the Congress and Mr. Kumar.
“We backed Mr. Kumar because he came out of the NDA. It is an alliance that spreads hatred. We saw that he was trying to weaken a communal alliance. The Congress voted for him because he was weakening communalism and strengthening secularism,” Mr. Ahmed said.
Mr. Ahmed remained non-committal on questions relating to the likelihood of a UPA government in Bihar. “A committee formed under the leadership of Defence Minister A.K. Antony will take a call on whether we want to have an alliance and if yes, with whom.”
He said that even though polls were nine months away, decisions on alliances in States will be made ahead of the polls.
Asked if RJD chief Lalu Prasad was a constituent of the UPA, Mr. Ahmed said it was an old fact that Mr. Prasad was not part of the UPA, but only supporting it from outside.
Asked about the Planning Commission’s grant of Rs. 12,000 crore to Bihar under the Backward Regions Grant Fund, Mr. Ahmed expressed the hope that Bihar would receive all the help possible as the per capita income in the State was below the national average.
Attacking Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress leader said the Planning Commission had told Mr. Modi to focus on the social sector instead of the corporate sector.
“The Government of India gave Gujarat Rs. 59,000 crore, which was Rs. 500 crore more than the amount Mr. Modi sought. Yet he blamed the government. In per capita income Gujarat is in the tenth spot, in infrastructure it is in 11th spot, in education 14th and in health it is in the 16th spot. The BJP still makes claims about development,” Mr. Ahmed said.
He tried to dodge a question on why Rahul Gandhi was absent from the scene in the face of the Uttarakhand tragedy. “It is a national disaster and Sonia Gandhi has asked all Congress MPs, MLA and MLCs to give one month’s salary towards the relief measures. This includes Mr. Gandhi too.”