Nitish as Prez? Bihar politicos rack their brains

Patna, Feb 22 (PTI) The political fraternity in Bihar on Tuesday racked its brains on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s worthiness for the post of the President of India, which is to fall vacant in a few months from now.

The ball has been set rolling by Maharashtra leader Nawab Malik who said that his party, headed by Sharad Pawar, was ready to back the JD(U) leader for the country’s highest constitutional office if the latter snapped ties with BJP.

When Kumar was approached by journalists, he replied with folded hands “This matter is not at the back of my mind”.

There was no reaction so far from BJP, his ally in Bihar which rules the Centre with majority in Lok Sabha but may have to depend heavily on the support of other parties to get a candidate of its choice elected as the president.

The tenure of President Ram Nath Kovind ends in July. The electoral college comprises members of both houses of Parliament besides legislative assemblies of states and union territories.

There were mixed reactions from the RJD, founded and headed by Kumar’s arch rival Lalu Prasad, on the chief minister’s name doing the rounds for the top job in the country.

Prasad’s maverick elder son Tej Pratap Yadav questioned how could a “murder accused” be elected to the top post.

He was referring to a nearly three decades old case in which Kumar has been acquitted by Supreme Court.

Upset over his father’s conviction in yet another fodder scam case, he declared petulantly “Lalu ji will become the prime minister”.

RJD spokesmen Mrityunjay Tiwari and Shakti Yadav came up with a more nuanced response.

Tiwari said, “As a Bihari I will be proud” if a leader from the state became the president but alleged that Kumar, “once seen as prime minister material by Laluji himself” had lost his credibility following his realignment with BJP.

Shakti Yadav recalled Kumar’s own stance in the last two presidential elections when he had supported candidates fielded by coalitions opposed to the ones he was part of.

The JD(U) leader had supported Pranab Mukherjee, despite then being with the NDA, and supported Kovind, who was fielded by the BJP, though he was then in the Grand Alliance which included RJD and Congress.

Yadav added tongue in cheek, “The president is supreme commander of the armed forces. If people start getting elected to such a post with the backing of a PR agency then the country is definitely headed for interesting times”.

The jibe was aimed at Prashant Kishor, famous political strategist and a former aide of Kumar who had met the Bihar chief minister during his recent Delhi trip.

It is being reported in a section of the media that Kishor, who has worked in his professional capacity with almost every prominent political party in the country, is playing a role in getting non-BJP parties back Kumar by way of demonstrating “opposition unity”.

The JD(U) is, predictably, gratified with the hubbub and state minister Shravan Kumar, a confidant of Kumar, ebulliently asserted that the Bihar chief minister “deserved” to be at the top.

Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi showered praise on Kumar, who had helped him reach the state’s highest seat of power.

“He is suited for the highest offices. As far as I am concerned, when chief ministership came my way I did not flinch from accepting the challenge. I am game for any future challenges,” said Manjhi, who has a reputation for loquaciousness.

Meanwhile, LJP leader Chirag Paswan, who seems intent on making a career out of attacks on Kumar, bristled at the sudden spotlight on the septuagenarian.

In a tweet, he taunted Kumar for “not denying” the speculations and charged him with pursuing his own ambitions while leaving the state in ruins.

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by The Sen Times staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds.
Source: PTI