“While one does not have the experience of Parliament another has no experience of running a State... I have both experiences... Am I less qualified than them?”
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made clear his prime ministerial ambitions for the first time on Thursday, saying he had better credentials for the top job than those “roaming around” as PM candidates.
“All these people who are roaming around, am I any less in comparison? I am more qualified than them,” Mr. Kumar told television channels NDTV and ETV Bihar during his “Sankalp Yatra” at Bettiah in West Champaran district.
Without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Kumar said, “While one does not have the experience of Parliament, another does not have the experience of running a State. I have both experiences. We are humble people. We are not aggressive in these matters.”
The remarks are a clear departure from Mr. Kumar’s position. Last year, he dismissed speculation on his likely candidature as “useless talk,” and criticised his political opponents as power-hungry people.
Mr. Kumar ruled out a tie-up with the Congress or the BJP after the election. He said the non-Congress, non-BJP combine of 11 regional parties will emerge as the “first front” and not the third front, proving all the “paid” pre-poll surveys wrong.
Asked about the Prime Ministerial ambitions of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Mr. Kumar said, “What’s wrong with that? Every party has its own strategy for its State.”
Pitching a “secular” plank, Mr. Kumar last year broke away from a 17-year-old alliance with the BJP on Narendra Modi’s candidature.
On his rival Lalu Prasad’s criticism, the Chief Minister said Mr. Prasad’s rebukes were a sign of his frustration. In response to Mr. Kumar’s stand, Mr. Prasad remarked later that Mr. Kumar was “a victim of illusion.”
Speaking at a ‘Sankalp Yatra’ in East Champaran district, he appealed to the people not to heed the BJP’s propaganda of “an apostle coming from the sky” to solve Bihar’s problems.“Development in Bihar can only be done by a native... The propaganda that an apostle coming from the sky will solve all our problems is aimed at merely getting votes,” Mr. Kumar said.
(With inputs from PTI)