Nitish as opposition’s prime ministerial face an option if other parties want: JD(U) president

Amid a buzz that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may emerge as the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, his party Janata Dal (United) said on Friday if other parties want so, then this is an option.

JD(U) president Lalan Singh said Kumar’s main focus is on uniting opposition parties to take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and he will visit the national capital to meet leaders from various parties after the vote of confidence in the Bihar assembly next week.

Nitish Kumar, Bihar’s longest serving chief minister and the main face of the JD(U), is not a contender for the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, his close aide told PTI.

Asked for the party’s view in case of other opposition parties backing him to take on the mantle, he said, “If other parties decide and want so, then it’s an option.”

The JD(U) president and Lok Sabha MP noted that many opposition leaders, including Sharad Pawar and Arvind Kejriwal, called up Kumar to congratulate him after he snapped ties with the BJP and allied with its rivals to form a new government in Bihar.

He said all opposition parties should sit together to decide on the leadership to take on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP in the next Lok Sabha polls.

“Or, all parties should fight unitedly to defeat the BJP and decide later who will be their leader. Both options are there. Nitish Kumar will work on bringing all other parties fighting the BJP on one platform to pose a united challenge to its rule,” he said.

Kumar’s decision to break ties with the BJP, his ally since 1996 except for a period between 2013-17, has fuelled speculation about his prime ministerial bid. BJP leaders have claimed that it was this ambition which was behind his decision to join hands with the RJD-Congress-Left alliance.

Kumar has rejected such claims.

There is a view that his image untainted by allegations of corruption and nepotism — twin planks of the BJP to target most opposition parties including the Congress — makes him a strong choice to emerge as the leader of the joint opposition.

Lalan Singh also made light of the BJP’s target of winning at least 35 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, and claimed the party will lose 40 seats from its 2019 tally in Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand alone.

Losing 40 seats will reduce the BJP’s tally to below the majority mark, he noted, saying the ruling party should worry about its fate across the country in such a scenario.

In the 2019 polls the BJP had won 303 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

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