New Delhi, June 17: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday hailed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as a "secular leader". When asked if the Congress will seek an alliance with Kumar who on Sunday gterminated his party's alliance with the BJP, Singh said there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics and decisions are taken depending on the situation.
The PM also described Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi as a 'natural leader' and said he would like to see the latter stepping into his shoes.
The JD(U) ended its 17-year-old alliance with the BJP in protest against the latter's decision to elevate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to the position of the party's poll campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Kumar, who was once known for his liking for Modi, turned away from the latter off late and preferred a 'secular' prime ministerial candidate of the NDA.
Kumar will seek a vote of confidence on Wednesday. The JD(U) requires four seats to get majority in the Bihar state assembly and Kumar has been in talks with Independents. The Congress has six seats in the assembly and it is not known whether it will help the JD(U) to bridge the gap.
Kumar is dependent on the Muslim voters in Bihar and his decision to break alliance with the BJP is a signal that he doesn't want to lose the minority votes to arch-rival like Lalu Prasad, whose RJD is on a revival mode. The JD(U) described Modi as a polarising figure who did not do enough to protect hundreds of Muslims during the Gujarat riots of 2002.
Although, Kumar who was the railway Minister then, did not claim any moral responsibility in the wake of the incident and was even heard saying in 2005 that the Congress was overstressing the riots to take political mileage and should find a fresh issue.