A section of Bihar’s ruling Grand Alliance, comprising JD-U, RJD and Congress, has disapproved of the projection of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi as the likely prime ministerial candidate in the next parliamentary election.
Barely a month after the state presidents of the three constituents of the Grand Alliance publicly differed over the next prime ministerial candidate, this time RJD chief Lalu Prasad has backed the candidature of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the young scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Lalu said he is unaware if Rahul Gandhi is the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress for the 2019 general election. “Nitish Kumar is the PM material,” he added.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo’s contention was immediately supported by Janata Dal-United leaders. “Lalu understands the pulse of people. He is right to say that Nitish Kumar is PM material and the PM candidate for the next Lok Sabha polls,” senior JD-U leader Shayam Rajak said.
Nitish Kumar has been emerging as the leader of non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parties to ensure a Sangh-free India, Rajak added.
In fact, there is strong speculation in political circles here that Kumar, also the JD-U’s national president, is keen to be projected as the prime ministerial candidate of a united opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On the other hand, on expected lines, Congress differed with its two allies over the issue of prime ministerial candidate, saying Rahul Gandhi is the face for the top post in the next parliamentary polls.
Rejecting the talk of the other two allies in Bihar, senior Congress leader Sadanand Singh said, “Rahul Gandhi is our prime ministerial candidate. We hardly bother about comments made by any one… Rahul Gandhi is the PM candidate.”
Another Congress leader Prem Chand Mishra said there is no confusion over Rahul Gandhi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate. “I think, leaders of the ruling alliance in Bihar should not be saying anything that sounds contrary to its goals.”