Nitish Kumar plays down rift in Bihar alliance, but sides with BJP more than Congress, RJD

A day after attacking its coalition partner Congress at the party executive meeting in Patna, JD(U) chief and Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar on Monday played down the rift in the Bihar Grand Alliance or  Mahagathbandhan. "What I said during party meeting yesterday (Sunday) was in a particular context, don't interpret it differently. Humne pehle bhi kaha hai ki Congress badi party hai, alternate narrative aur agenda set karna chahiye (As we had said earlier, Congress is a big a party and we need to set an alternative agenda)," Nitish Kumar said while addressing a press conference in Patna.

Even though Nitish tried his best to playdown the rift within the ruling party in Bihar, the chief minister was critical of the Congress and Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) more than he was of the BJP. Taking a dig at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Nitish said, "We have forgotten the farmer issue, many within the Congress and opposition admit in private that issues like demonetisation etc does not work against the BJP government."

Another point of contention within the Mahagathbandhan was the JD(U)'s decision to attend the launch event of GST in Parliament at the midnight stroke of 30 June. Senior JD(U) leader and Bihar energy minister Bijender Prasad Yadav attended the special session, while the Lalu-led RJD and the Congress had boycotted it.

Nitish on Sunday had slammed Congress saying that the grand old party had ''dumped Mahatma Gandhi's ideology''. Replying to the question on leading the Opposion for the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, Nitish Kumar said he is not the face for upcoming General Elections in 2019. "Ours is a small party and we don't have that potential," Kumar said. When asked why he skipped the GST launch event, Nitish Kumar said that he was not invited in the first place. He added that his party has always supported GST as "it will bring transparency to the system."  "We fully support the GST tax reform. Any problems at the beginning will be ironed out," NDTV quoted Kumar as saying. 

Talking about former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, Nitish said, "He (Sushil) is a former colleague, he has a habit of giving statements everyday. He does it for the media."

"In 2015 Bihar election, Mahagathbandhan was strong, and it will continue to be so," Nitish said on Monday. Nitish had blamed Congress for the current mess in the Opposition, adding that the "idea of a Sangh-mukt Bharat cannot fructify without taking all Opposition parties into confidence''.

The Bihar chief minister on Sunday had expressed his displeasure with the Congress over the way the party declared their presidential candidate. He had also criticised the Congress for not taking his party into confidence for the presidential polls. Nitish had refrained from making any comment against RJD or its leader Lalu Prasad Yadav's rally "BJP hatao, desh bachao", scheduled for August.

The JD(U) and the RJD, along with the Congress, are part of the mahagathbandhan in Bihar. The news of trouble in the grand alliance has been doing the rounds since the JD(U) unilaterally announced its support to former Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind, NDA's presidential candidate. Lalu Prasad Yadav had, however, criticised Nitish Kumar, saying Bihar chief minister had committed a "historical mistake" by extending support to Kovind.

Updated Date: Jul 03, 2017 15:17:06 IST