Nitish Kumar all set to walk out of NDA: JD(U) sources

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Nitish Kumar
New Delhi, March 29: With Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi looking certain to emerge as the BJP's poster boy for the next Lok Sabha polls, it seems his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar's stay in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is not going to last longer.

Going by the voices emanating from JD(U) ranks, it seems Kumar is all set to walk out of the alliance. Sources even indicate that he might not wait for the BJP to formally declare Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. Kumar has been a critic of the idea of making Modi the NDA's PM candidate and wanted a ‘secular' face for the top job. The Gujarat CM is yet to get rid of the ‘communal' label which was imprinted on him after the 2002 progroms in his state.

Sources in the JD(U) said the BJP looked certain to get drubbed in the upcoming Karnataka assembly polls. They said the BJP would then completely fall back on Modi to revive its fortunes ahead of the Lok sabha polls and such a development would not spare any option for the JD(U) but to walk out of the alliance.

Karnataka will go to the polls on May 5 and the results will be declared on May 8. Chips are down for the rift ridden ruling BJP in the state which suffered a big blow in the urban local polls earlier this month.

JD(U) leader and Kumar's close aide Sanjay Jha said the chief minister had articulated the party's stand and if there was any deviation, even if unofficially, the party would rethink its position.

The JD(U) felt boosted to walk out of the NDA owing to a number of factors.

First, the victory in the Kalyanpur by-poll held recently. The victory of Manju Kumar by a wide margin was significant for it came in a seat which has a concentration of upper-caste votes, normally a bank of the BJP. The result made Kumar and his party believe that the upper castes were keeping faith in them.

The second is the success of the JD(U)'s massive Adhikar Rally held in New Delhi on March 17. Just a week after the rally and Kumar's meeting with UPA leaders including the prime minister, the Centre made clear its intention to modify the criterion for backwardness to make Bihar eligible for funds.

Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh also wrote to Kumar on approving funds for a rural job scheme. It is believed that the Centre has been trying to woo Kumar after the DMK's recent pull-out and the Bihar CM is also intending to reciprocate the favour.

Though JD(U) sources said that there was no immediate plan to join the Congress's alliance, but Mulayam Singh Yadav's unpredictability might see Kumar coming close to the UPA faster than expected.

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