Raising the pitch for unity against the BJP, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday said it was necessary for the Opposition parties to join forces ahead of the 2024 general election to effectively counter the prevailing “one-sided” situation.
A united front against the BJP, Nitish said, was in the “national interest”, appearing to blunt suggestions that his ongoing efforts are driven by personal ambitions alone.
Speaking to the media after wrapping up his three-day Delhi visit, Nitish also characteristically played down suggestions about his possible lead role in the event of a joint alliance against the BJP taking shape.
“I am not looking for any role for myself. For me, bringing parties together is paramount. If Opposition parties align, the situation that will be created will determine the future course of action. But I can tell you, it will be in the national interest,” Nitish told reporters after meeting NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.
On Tuesday, Nitish had said he was not even a “claimant” for the post of Prime Minister, a line he has maintained ever since he walked out of the NDA and re-embraced the RJD, causing a major political upheaval in Bihar and setting off a churn at the national stage.
Attacking the BJP, Nitish said the Centre was offering nothing beyond “empty words”. “Compare the work done during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and under this dispensation. The entire focus is on publicity,” he said.
He also attacked political strategist Prashant Kishor, saying the latter’s statements have “no relevance”. “He was with us. I had asked him to leave his political consultancy. But he did not agree. Does he have any idea about the extent of work done (in Bihar) since 2005. All they can do is make statements for publicity. He is an expert in doing that. And going by statements, maybe, he wants to be with the BJP or support it covertly,” Nitish said.
Responding to a question on the political formations such as a third front, Nitish said, “I keep saying, if there is to be a front now, it will be the main front.”
“Enthused” with the “positive response” he received from the Opposition leaders he met over the last three days, Nitish said there will be no let up in his efforts, adding he will visit Delhi again to meet Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, who is currently abroad.
On Wednesday, apart from Pawar, Nitish also met CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. Since Monday, he has met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, and INLD leader OP Chautala.
On the possibility of Congress and AAP agreeing to be part of an alliance, Nitish said, “Be it Left parties, Congress, SP or any other…if people talk, decide an agenda and come together, then a very promising atmosphere will be created.” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was among those who congratulated him after the development [exiting NDA] in Bihar, he added.
Nitish also met President Droupadi Murmu during the day.