Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar may have broken off a 17-year-old alliance with the BJP on account of the emergence of Narendra Modi as its potential Prime Ministerial candidate, but he today said his party would fight the next general elections purely highlighting its achievements in governance.
The Bihar Chief Minister, who was speaking at the Think India Dialogue series organised by the Network18 group, said his party would only highlight its record on governance and prevalence of law.
"We don't discuss individuals and the person you refer to (Modi) will not be an issue. Governance will remain a topic of debate and the prevalence of law," he said in response to an audience question.
He said that he wouldn't compete with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav to project himself as being more secular in comparison to Modi.
There will be no compromise on governance or on ideological issues, Nitish said.
He also denied that he was being opportunistic by breaking off the alliance with the BJP.
"We want our ideological principles to remain intact and that's why we broke the alliance," the Bihar chief minister said.
"Our government was working properly and leisurely and now we are on a tightrope for survival. If there wasn't a question of ideology why would we take such a step?" he said.
When questioned by Network18's Managing Director Raghav Bahl about prime ministerial ambitions given his popularity that was being reflected in surveys, Nitish said he did not harbour any ambitions for the post.
"Surveys keep taking place but one should not get ideas because of it. I am working in a small state and don't aspire to hold such a high post... Please don't include my name in such surveys," he said.
Nitish said the only thing his state wanted was a special category status.
"We could support alliances based on how they will affect poor states like us, but that doesn't mean anything presently," the chief minister said.
So will the JD(U) support the NDA again if they come to power and promise special status for the state?
"We will wait for the government to be formed and whoever can give us what we want, we will support them," he said.
The chief minister also emphasised the need for an inclusive model of economic growth that benefited poorer states like Bihar.
Nitish also dodged a question about whether there was anything that he liked about the Gujarat economic model of growth and said each state should evolve its own unique model.
"We learn from our challenges and failures. We don't look at other's models of growth," he said.
Nitish also advocated strong action against the perpetrators of the attack along the LoC that left five Indian soldiers dead, but cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
"If anyone comes into our border and does something, strong deterrent action should be taken," Nitish said.
He, however, pointed out that democratic parties in Pakistan were in favour of better ties with India.
"We should understand the situation in Pakistan also... There are other factors and forces there that are in play and should be considered," Nitish said.
But if someone commits such incidents it should be tackled with strength, he said, adding that the whole country was united in this sentiment.
He also promised to do anything that would benefit the families of the soldiers who were killed along the Line of Control.