Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday dismissed reports about becoming the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate and stressed the need for “alternative narratives” against the NDA. The JD(U) president, who asked the opposition to move beyond “reactive narratives”, also dispelled fears about fissures in Bihar’s Grand Alliance and said the government would fulfill its commitment in time by implementing the “seven resolves” of good governance.
Kumar was interacting with reporters after the Lok Samvad (public interaction) programme. RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s son and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav was seen sitting by his side along with other ministers. Dismissing himself as a prime ministerial candidate in 2019 Lok Sabha poll, Kumar said, “We are a small party and very well know the futility of nourishing prime ministerial ambitions.”
“It is seen that the candidate whose name is in circulation never gets to the post.” More than having a face, “the opposition should have alternative narratives to go to the people against the ruling party on key issues like the problems of farmers”, he told reporters. Only talking would not help. What was needed was “alernative agendas” on issues like farmer problems and cow protection. “It’s the duty of the opposition to oppose the government… we should have alternative agendas for the benefit of the country more than relying only on reactive narratives,” Kumar said.
Asked why he was not piloting the alternative narratives’ formulation, Kumar asked, “Am I the most talented person?” All parties opposed to BJP policies should come together and formulate “alternative agendas” for the good of the country. Kumar’s remarks come in the backdrop of RJD chief Lalu Prasad describing the JD(U) chief’s support to NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind as a “Himalayan blunder”.
The Congress, part of the Grand Alliance along with the JD(U) and RJD, had also blamed Kumar for not supporting the opposition’s presidential nominee Meira Kumar, a Bihar native. Asked about the opposition indulging in “shadow boxing” instead unitedly taking on the BJP, Kumar said in a lighter vein, “There is no shadow boxing… there is only shadow reporting.” “We got bogged down speaking against each other on the issue of the presidential candidate and lost the momentum on a more burning issues like farmer problems, triggering a spate of suicides in different parts of the country,” Kumar said.
He cited the Bihar example to support his assertions. “The Grand Alliance won in Bihar in 2015 because, besides coming together, we had a vision and programme for the state’s development by way of ‘seven resolves’ while the NDA constituents lacked this,” he said. Justifying his party’s stand on supporting Kovind as a presidential poll nominee and attending the special session of Parliament on GST, he said, “It’s our principled stand taken after thoroughly deliberating on all aspects. I have already talked in detail on the subject at JD(U)’s state executive meeting in Patna yesterday.”
To expose the BJP’s cow protection slogans, Kumar said Bihar would soon have a shelter in Patna for abandoned cattle. In reply to a query on whether he would attend RJD’s August 27 rally in Patna, where an attempt is being made to bring prominent non-BJP party leaders together, Kumar said, “I have received an informal invitation for the rally. I am sure a formal one would also come soon…” Asked if he would side with the opposition on the vice presidential election, Kumar said there was still time for it. “Otherwise also, it is not a big issue.”