Rajgir: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was on Sunday formally appointed JD(U) president, pushing him for a bigger role in national politics, though the party desisted from declaring him its prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Nitish's appointment as JD(U) chief was ratified at the party's national council meeting in Nalanda district. He was the sole candidate for the post after nominations were invited last month in Delhi and was declared "elected unopposed".
National council members from 23 states unanimously supported the resolution moved by Rajya Sabha member Haribansh to appoint the Bihar Chief Minister as JD(U) chief. Nitish had taken the rein from Sharad Yadav in April.
Briefing reporters on the deliberations of the JD(U) national council, the party's general secretary, KC Tyagi, said Nitish was authorised to explore the option of forging "a strong alternative" of non-BJP parties nationally to defeat the "communal forces", the way he did it in Bihar.
Tyagi, accompanied by two senior Bihar ministers, Bijendra Prasad Yadav and Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan, said Nitish was the "most credible face" among a larger section of the people who saw him "with a hope to defeat the BJP and the RSS". He, however, made it clear that the JD(U) had "never declared" that Nitish would be the prime ministerial candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"Although he is PM material with secularist, non-dynastic and non-casteist credentials, being a small party, the JD(U) has never officially declared him the prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 polls," Tyagi said.
Nitish Kumar, who was the face of the coming together of secular forces to defeat the BJP and RSS, would try to expand the party in other states, he said.
Asked that coming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh would be the first major event for Nitish as the JD(U) chief, Tyagi said Nitish was making all efforts to bring together non-BJP forces on one platform, but the two major parties in most populous state SP and BSP are not responding positively.
"SP and BSP are not responding positively to efforts to bring all non-BJP parties at one platform in UP. They are maintaining a distance from other secular forces which might give advantage to BJP," Tyagi, who hails from UP, said.
"Ideally the SP and BSP should have come together like the JD(U) and RJD did in Bihar to defeat the BJP and RSS in UP," he said.
The party general secretary, however, said JD(U) with RLD of Ajit Singh and other parties like one floated by rebel BSP leader R K Chaudhary is trying to strengthen secular forces in the UP.
"We will not create any hurdles in the way of SP of Mulayam Singh Yadav or BSP of Mayawati in UP poll," he added.
Over 170 delegates from 23 states adopted political and economic resolutions at the national council meet. Former JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, former union minister M P Veerendra Kumar were among those present in the meet.
Nitish would speak on Monday in the open session which would be attended among others by former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi. Asked that some JD(U) leaders from other states who have been kicked out from the party on charge of indiscipline have threatened to move to courts against Nitish's appointment as the party president, Bijendra Prasad Yadav and Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan said they have been expelled from the party and hence have no ground to challenge the appointment.
The JD(U) national council expressed its deep concern on Pakistan sponsored terrorist attacks, particularly the large loss of lives of the country's soldiers in Pathankot and Uri.
"Our party has congratulated the central government and our brave armed forces for the surgical strike of 29 September. The fight against terrorism represents a national resolve and should not become a subject for internal politics. Equally, all attempts should be made to restore peace and normalcy in Kashmir," read the resolution adopted in JD(U) national council meet.
Asked about JD(U)'s stand on triple talaq, Tyagi said, "Our veteran leader George Fernandes and others have always said it should be debated by people of that community. "JD(U) is against the efforts of the BJP to bring a uniform civil code keeping in view UP election," he said.
Tyagi also slammed the BJP for making efforts to "bring back" the Ayodhya issue to derive political mileage in UP Assembly polls.
"One BJP MP has talked about making a more effective surgical strike in Ayodhya," he said but refused to name the MP.
Coming down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP for not fulfilling promises made during 2014 parliamentary polls, Tyagi said, "The country only witnessed divisive efforts like ghar wapsi, love jihad and Kairana among others."
"Today with the imminent elections in UP, the BJP has revived the issue of uniform civil code to deliberately
polarise society for electoral gains. It is raising the Ayodhya issue for the same reason. And in Jammu amd Kashmir it is creating doubts about continued validity of Article 370. These retrograde steps are a serious threat to the nation's unity," the JD(U) resolution said.
Tyagi said the national council has authorised Nitish Kumar to choose national executive members, appoint adhoc committees in states and bring some changes in party constitution.
The JD(U) economic resolution said, "The most obvious failure of the BJP government is on economic front. Its elitist economic model openly supports crony capitalism. The central government's claim of over 7 percent GDP is nowhere visible on the ground. Exports are falling, industrial production is down, manufacturing sector is declining, the banking sector is in a mess and unemployment is growing."
The resolution said the JD(U) was opposed to the BJP government's attempt to introduce genetically modified (GM) seeds including most recently for GM mustard.