Nitish Kumar backs BJP presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind, offers Opposition backing on everything but this

In a hurriedly-called party meeting on Wednesday, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and his cabinet of ministers have decided to support the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Ram Nath Kovind as the nomination for the next President of India.

Breaking ranks with the mahagathbandhan, led by ruling JD(U), RJD and Congress in Bihar, Nitish has told Congress chief Sonia Gandhi that he will support the Opposition in all other issues, but he will make an exception for the presidential elections. "He will have a positive attitude towards Kovind," sources told India Today.

After BJP announced Kovind's name as the front-runner in the upcoming elections, Nitish expressed happiness over his candidature. However, the chief minister had stopped short of committing support to the NDA nominee.

"In my capacity as the Bihar chief minister, it is a matter of happiness that our governor has been declared as the candidate for the next president of India," he told reporters after paying a courtesy call to Kovind at the Raj Bhawan, hours after the BJP announced his name as the NDA candidate for the presidential election.

 Nitish Kumar backs BJP presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind, offers Opposition backing on everything but this

File image of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Paying his gratitude to Kovind for serving Bihar, Kumar had said that Kovind has served with distinction during his tenure as the Bihar's governor. "I came to pay a courtesy call to the governor as he is set to leave for the national capital. I am bound to pay my respect to him (Kovind) after declaration of his candidature for the post of the President India," Nitish said.

After a bitter break-up with the BJP before the 2014 General Elections, Nitish has showered praises on Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi for every big decision taken by the Centre government — beginning with the surgical strikes in Pakistan. He publicly lauded government's demonetisation decision. Bihar, in fact, became among the first states to ratify Goods and Services Tax (GST). Modi, on the other hand, also praised Nitish for enacting total liquor prohibition law in Bihar, during the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

There have been speculations in media and political circles over deteriorating relations between Nitish and RJD chief and coalition partner Lalu Prasad Yadav. In fact, the JD(U) distanced itself from the RJD after a  charges were levelled against Lalu his family members recently. The JD(U) always maintained that it was for the embattled leader Lalu to respond to the charges.

Recently, the income-tax department seized 12 plots which belonged to Lalu’s son and deputy chief minister of Bihar Tejaswi Yadav, his three daughters and son-in-law. The BJP has demanded removal of Tejashwi as the deputy chief minister and questioned Nitish's "much publicised" zero-tolerance policy against corruption.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jun 21, 2017 13:24:16 IST