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Home > News > PTI

Modi is not a PM candidate: Nitish Kumar

January 04, 2008 13:48 IST

Distancing himself from the BJP's victory in Gujarat, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has sought to suggest that he does not see Narendra Modi [Images] as a prime ministerial candidate.

"The BJP has decided to project L K Advani as the next prime ministerial candidate and he is acceptable to all parties in the NDA. I don't think beyond that as Modi becoming candidate for PM's job is a hypothetical question," he said.

In an interview to PTI, Kumar disassociated his party JD(U), a key NDA ally, with Modi's victory in Gujarat.

"The JD(U) has nothing to do with BJP or Modi's victory in Gujarat assembly elections as we contested separately.

"Moreover, NDA chairman A B Vajpayee and the BJP have made it clear that L K Advani will be the party's candidate for prime ministerial candidate in the next polls," he said when asked if Modi would be acceptable to JD(U) as future prime minister.

"If you (the media) want to raise an issue within BJP over Modi as prime ministerial candidate, you are free (to do so)," he added.

Asked to compare the tenure of Manmohan Singh [Images] and Vajpayee as prime minister, he said while the BJP patriarch was a mass leader, this was not the case with Singh.

"While nobody disputes Singh's ability as prime minister, one has to acknowledge that he is not even the leader of the party to which he belongs. The ruling alliance is a two-faced entity-- Singh heads the government and Sonia the alliance," he said.

Kumar rejected Modi's criticism of Centre's 15-point programme for economic development of minorities as "communal budgeting". "It is not communal but social budgeting," he said.

Modi had at the December 19 meeting of the National Development Council triggered a controversy when he alleged the UPA government was resorting to "communal budgeting" by earmarking special funds for minorities.

"The Constitution provides for preferential treatment to socially and educationally backward sections of society. Why only Muslims, deprived sections like Dalits, Scheduled Tribes and women all qualify for preferential treatment as they have been left out of the development process for ages," he said.

Mushars, for example, are the most backward among the Dalits with just six per cent literacy, he contended.

"The 'Maha Dalit' Commission constituted by me has recommended special measures for them and we will implement those. We cannot call this caste or communal budgeting but social budgeting," he said.

The Bihar chief minister is facing flak from Union Minister and LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan, who has accused him of trying to divide Dalits by forming this panel, said.

Kumar also spoke at length about JD(U)'s relations with the saffron party, his equations with NDA convenor George Fernandes [Images] and Congress' future in the next general elections.

"The JD(U) has very old ties with BJP in Bihar and Jharkhand where we have fought six Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in alliance, but electorally speaking, apart from these two states we are together only in Uttar Pradesh and at the national level and that arrangement will continue," he said.

Predicting a "bleak future" for the Congress in the next Lok Sabha elections, Kumar spoke of Congress' debacles in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Gujarat and Himachal Assembly polls last year.

"These do not augur well for the party," he said.

Asked about the status of senior leader and NDA convenor George Fernandes who said there would be "no rapprochement with Nitish or Sharad Yadav", Kumar sought to downplay the differences.

"Fernandes is our tallest and most respected leader. We don't mind what he says," he said.

On whether the party will give him a ticket to contest the next Lok Sabha polls from Muzaffarpur, Kumar avoided a direct reply.

"Commenting on what he says at his ripe old age is inappropriate. George saheb is our guardian and in keeping with the Indian tradition, we should not speak against those elder to us," he added.

Asked about Lalu's accusation that he was deliberately delaying acquisition of land for railway projects in the state, Kumar said, "There is no laxity on my part in land acquisition for the railway projects and I will be happier than him if these are executed as most were launched during my tenure."

Asked about his ongoing spat with Prasad with both accusing each other of violation of the spirit of federalism, Kumar said, "I raised this issue at the NDA meeting as frequent and unnecessary criticism of a state regime is not in the interest of good Centre-State relations."

"The Union Ministers need to be more cautious about what they speak. I don't use state government fora to criticise the Centre, but people like Lalu Prasad should also not use railway programmes to criticise us," he said.

He also accused Prasad of "misusing his clout to get the House dissolved in 2005. Even President A P J Abdul Kalam on demitting office admitted it was the most difficult decision to take".

Asked whether the UPA government was doing enough for Bihar's development, Kumar said "their sincerity in economic progress of the state will be tested if they approve our Rs 17,000 crore proposal for inter-linking of rivers".

"This would help us to tackle recurrent problems of floods and drought and reconstruction of infrastructure damaged in this year's deluge," he added.




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