A day after the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) came out against Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial candidature, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar yesterday took a dig at Modi, saying one state’s model of development cannot be a possible answer to India’s ills.
A resolution passed at the end of the two-day JD-U national executive meeting also asked the BJP to name its prime ministerial candidate by the end of this year. It was the most unambiguous public expression of opposition within the BJP-led NDA to Modi, widely seen in his own party and by his supporters as a prime ministerial candidate.
Addressing some 1,300 delegates of JD-U, Nitish Kumar took a dig at Modi and thundered that his party would never give up secularism. He said his party’s alliance with the BJP — the two together run the Bihar government — could continue only if “fundamental issues” were made clear.
Nitish Kumar also underlined that economic development was taking place everywhere, and said that one state (read Gujarat) could not be cited as an example for the rest of the country. “What kind of development do we want?” he then asked. And in remarks clearly aimed at Modi, he said he would not want a development model that kept large chunks of people deprived of drinking water.
But he said there was no problem in the BJP-JD-U alliance in Bihar. “We want to walk together and we don’t want to leave anyone,” he said. He said the JD-U would never give up its principle of secular values. “If its alliance with BJP broke down in future, the JD-U will take a decision depending on the situation.”
There was no immediate reaction from the BJP to Nitish Kumar’s comments, but party president Rajnath Singh called Modi its most popular leader.
Bihar CM on ‘secular’ Modi
Nitish Kumar invoked former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had asked Modi to follow ‘rajdharma’ after the 2002 Gujarat riots. Alluding to an incident when Modi refused to accept a skullcap from a group of Muslims, Nitish Kumar said, “You have to respect everyone. Sometimes you have to wear a cap, sometimes you have to sport a ‘tilak’s.”