Nitish Kumar not keen to support Narendra Modi as PM

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Nitish Kumar Modi
Bangalore, June 19: It seems the challenge is getting steeper for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with each passing day. While the alliance has been struggling to reach a consensus on choosing its presidential candidate, JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has gone even a bit further. He felt the NDA should announce its prime ministerial candidate as early as possible for the 2014 polls although gave hint that he would not support BJP leader and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, considered a front-runner for the post by various quarters.

Kumar, who stressed an earlier projection of the prime ministerial candidate, said during an interview that the desired candidate should be one who believed in secular and democratic values and did not display rough personal traits in a an extreme diverse country like India. Kumar, however, ruled himself also out of any reckoning to become the future PM of India. "I can not even dream of the high office," he was heard saying.

The Bihar CM took an evasive stance when asked whether his state was not receptive of the Gujarat CM during assembly polls. Kumar replied that the BJP had many other capable leaders in the state to handle the elections.

Kumar said he has a good relationship with the BJP leadership in the state but some 'external elements' are trying to ruin the good terms. He also negated any possibility of imitating the Gujarat CM's development model and said his focus for development would be more on agro-based and small-scale industries instead of the large ones.

The terms between the BJP and JD(U) have not been in the best of taste for sometime now. During the BJP's national executive meet held in Patna two years ago, Kumar had scrapped a dinner hosted in the honour of top BJP leaders like Nitin Gadkari, L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley after the saffron party had carried an ad campaign in local newspapers showing Kumar handshaking with Modi. Police raids were also ordered at the ad agency, which had issued the advertisement. Kumar also returned the financial aid given by the Gujarat government for the 2008 Kosi flood damage. Even, Modi was denied an entry in Bihar to campaign for him during the assembly elections in late 2010.

The recent statements made by Modi on Bihar's caste politics were also not taken in a good spirit by Kumar. Although, a damage-control effort was made in the last minute by the BJP which said Modi's comments were mainly addressed to the RJD which had ruled Bihar in the past, but the damage had been made by then. A few days ago, a minister and senior BJP leader in Bihar reportedly said that Modi should aim for the PM's post and that Bihar would support him. The JD(U) sought an explanation from the BJP on this, saying such statements are not welcome.

The BJP is finding the Kumar-Modi clash too hot to handle. Modi undoubtedly is its trump-card for the next general polls, but it can not do away with Kumar, either, for he is a powerful force in Bihar, which has 40 seats in the Lok Sabha.

In the state assembly, the JD(U) currently has 118 members, only four short of the majority mark in the 243-member-strong house and gaining an absolute majority would not be a problem for it has support of six Independents. Hence, the onus is more on the BJP to settle things in its favour.

Kumar knows the BJP was yet to make up its mind on the PM candidate and the longer he waited for them, the brighter would be the possibility for Modi to emerge as the consensus candidate. Hence, the push for a fast decision.

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