In the wake of senior BJP leaders backing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the job of prime minister, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad on Monday threw a challenge at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, asking him to make clear his stance.
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde had earlier made statements that Narendra Modi was a fit candidate for prime ministership.
Lalu Prasad reminded the Bihar chief minister of a statement he made a few months ago, that he would end his alliance with the BJP if that party projected the Gujarat chief minister as prime minister in the 2014 general elections.
“What will Nitish Kumar do if the BJP goes ahead and projects Modi as prime minister candidate for the 2014 parliamentary polls, as top BJP leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Gopinath Munde have already supported Modi? That indicates the mood in the BJP,” Lalu told newspersons at Madhepura during his parivartan yatra.
Lalu said it was high time that Nitish Kumar made clear his stand on the issue. “Going by the statements of BJP leaders supporting Narendra Modi for prime minister, Nitish Kumar should make it clear whether he will endorse their stand or oppose it,” Lalu Prasad said.
However, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said no formal announcement of a prime ministerial candidate had been made by the BJP, and that the opinions so far expressed were only of individuals.
“Lalu Prasad’s remarks are related to the statements of BJP leaders in their individual capacity. We have to wait till the party makes a formal announcement,” he said.
The JD-U has been vocal in its opposition to Narendra Modi coming to the state. Modi evokes strong reactions in Bihar, particularly from the minorities, for his alleged involvement in the Gujarat riots in which almost 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.
Nitish Kumar had earlier objected to his photographs with Narendra Modi in newspaper advertisements during the BJP national executive meeting in Patna in June 2010.
Several JD-U leaders had demanded that the Gujarat CM should not be allowed to campaign during the Bihar assembly polls.
Nitish Kumar had claimed earlier that it would not take a minute for his party to break ties with the BJP if the latter projected Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.
Lalu also hit out at Narendra Modi, describing him as a communal leader responsible for butchering hundreds of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.
BJP releases manifesto
In a bid to retain power in Gujarat, the BJP under the leadership of CM Narendra Modi released its manifesto for the upcoming assembly polls in the state on Dec 13 and 17, promising more jobs, low interest loans for farmers and speciality hospitals. Modi said the manifesto is a ‘blue print’ for the next five years.
“The manifesto focuses on all round development of the state. It will touch all sections of society,” Modi said. Modi added: “People generally use the word manifesto. However, I have selected the word ‘Sankalp Patra’ which means my commitment towards Gujarat.” Modi said the Sankalp Patra ‘is not mere promises but it is a strong commitment towards development’.
The manifesto assured of more than 30 lakh jobs for the youth and housing for the poor. It also promised to set up modern speciality hospitals in Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot and North Gujarat. It promised lower interest rates, loans for farmers, cold storages and agro processing units, besides large-scale irrigation facilities.
For women it assured to set up more courts in talukas. Modi said: “In the past 10 years, the BJP has constructed 22 lakh houses. In the upcoming five years, we are going to construct 50 lakh more houses.”