The NDA may not be able to make up its mind on whom it wants to back in the upcoming presidential poll but, according to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the alliance should declare it's prime ministerial candidate as early as possible and no, he doesn't seem to inclined to supporting Narendra Modi.
Saying the NDA should pick its candidate in advance, Kumar said in an interview to The Economic Times,"To me the leader of the coalition should have secular credentials. It should be someone who has absolute faith in democratic values. In a multi-religious and multi-lingual country like ours, the leader should not have rough edges in his personality."
However, he rules himself out of the race for the post himself saying that he "cannot even dream of this high office."
When asked about declaring the state out of bounds for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi while campaigning for state polls, Kumar evaded the question saying that the BJP already has enough capable leaders within the state to handle the assembly elections.
Pointing out that he has cordial relationships with the BJP leadership in Bihar, the Chief Minister said that he could not help it if "external forces" were bent on spoiling the relationship between him and the state's BJP unit. Who are these external forces? He leaves us guessing.
The Bihar chief minister also says that he is unlikely to follow the Gujarat chief minister's development model of inviting big industry saying he would rather focus on developing agriculture-based and small scale industries instead.
This isn't the first time the two leaders have clashed. Recently, the Gujarat Chief Minister's statements on caste politics in Bihar keeping it backward irked Kumar.
While the BJP has begun to come around to the fact that they cannot ignore Narendra Modi for the next general elections, they cannot afford to ignore Nitish Kumar either, who looks unassailable in his bastion in Bihar.
While few in the BJP may have the courage to raise their voices against Modi given the fate his political opponents have met, Kumar on the other hand has no such qualms. He knows the BJP is still to make up its mind and knows that the longer he waits for them to make it, the more likely it is to be the Gujarat Chief Minister. Given his importance in the NDA, Kumar may just force the alliance's hand in declaring a prime ministerial candidate earlier than it planned and, given his current sentiment, it seems he will certainly reject Modi.