Speculations are rife in political spectrum that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may be the presidential candidate of the Opposition parties for which election is likely to take place in July-August. Mr. Kumar, though, has dismissed any such “thought” over it.
The buzz in political circles in Bihar is that poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who was earlier next to Mr. Kumar in the Janata Dal (United), and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao have started exploring such possibility for Mr. Kumar by holding several meetings with other Opposition parties. Mr. Kishor had a long meeting with the Bihar Chief Minister on February 21 in Delhi, though both had called it a “courtesy” call. Mr. Kishor had also met Mr. Rao in Hyderabad this month. Earlier, the Telangana Chief Minister had a surprise meeting with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav in Hyderabad.
Besides, Mr. Rao recently held meetings with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar as part of their strategy to bring together like-minded parties against the BJP and the Congress.
“The plan may be to rope in the RJD to vote for Nitish as the Opposition’s presidential candidate by making Mr. Tejashwi Yadav as Chief Minister of Bihar. But for this, Mr. Kumar has to first snap his ties with the BJP”, a senior State Congress leader, wishing anonymity, told The Hindu. “However, the President is indirectly elected by an electoral college consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and I am not sure if the Opposition [minus the BJP and the Congress] has that much of support to put up its candidate for the coveted post,” he added.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Minister and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said Mr. Kumar’s name could be considered “only if his party snapped ties with the BJP”. “But any decision on the Opposition’s candidate for the post of country’s next President will be taken collectively by leaders of political parties”, said Mr. Malik in Mumbai. RJD leader and party MLA Shakti Yadav said, “if the BJP chooses Mr. Kumar for the post of next President, it will be a matter of joy for the RJD”. However, when asked, Mr. Kumar debunked any such “thought” over it. “I didn’t even thought of it”, Mr. Kumar told media persons in Bhagalpur, where he is currently undertaking his Samaj-Sudhar Abhiyan (social reform campaign).