Nitish Kumar ‘strong’ PM candidate for 2024, says Tejashwi Yadav

Nitish has more than 37 years of vast parliamentary and administrative experience and enjoys immense goodwill on the ground as well as among his peers, said Bihar's Deputy CM

Nitish Kumar-Bihar CM
On August 12, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said he is not in the PM’s race. File photo

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Sunday (August 21) said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar might be a “strong candidate” for the Prime Minister’s post in 2024 elections.

“I cannot claim to speak on behalf of the entire Opposition, however, if considered, respected Nitish ji definitely might be a strong candidate. For the last 50 years, he has been a social and political activist, having participated in JP and reservation movements,” Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Yadav told PTI.

“He (Nitish) has more than 37 years of vast parliamentary and administrative experience and enjoys immense goodwill on the ground as well as among his peers,” Yadav added.

Also read: Oppn unity my focus, no desire to be PM, says Nitish Kumar

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On August 12, Kumar said he is not in the PM’s race. “I say this with folded hands, I have no such thoughts… My work is to work for everyone. I will make an effort to see that all the Opposition parties work together. If they do, it will be good…,” Kumar told ANI when told that he is being seen as a PM face.

Nitish took oath as chief minister along with Tejashwi, who has been designated deputy CM, earlier this month after the JD(U) snapped ties with the BJP and joined hands with the RJD, the Congress and some other parties to form the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ government.

He also said the BJP’s narrative that “jungle raj” will be back in Bihar with the return of the Mahagathbandhan government was a “tired discourse” and a “classic case” of “crying wolf”.

Tejashwi  said the coming to power of the Mahagathbandhan government with the JD(U), the RJD, the Congress and other parties uniting “augurs well for opposition unity”.

Also read: Nitish has broken BJP’s incisors, but has giant barriers in race to be PM

“It signals that most of the Opposition parties recognise the larger challenge before the country – the hegemony of the BJP, where on the back of money, media, and (administrative) machinery power, they are determined to stamp out all diversity from the Indian society as well as from the political spectrum,” he alleged.

It is also a question of regional representation and social justice and development issues at the level of states, Yadav said.

“For all their talk of cooperative federalism, the BJP’s attempt has been to consistently ignore regional disparities. Bihar needs special attention – nobody can deny it. But have we got anything from the Centre? Not quite,” he said.

Also read: Nitish Kumar is a wily politician; is there a counter to his gambit?

Tejashwi asserted that regional parties and other progressive political groups have to look beyond their narrow gains and losses and save the republic, asserting that it will be very difficult to rebuild if “we don’t stop the destruction in its tracks now”.

Nitish’s decision to break ties with the BJP, his ally since 1996 except for the period between 2013 and 2017, has fuelled speculation about his prime ministerial bid.

Asked about the several adverse comments he had made about Kumar when the JD(U) leader was in alliance with the BJP, Yadav said if one looks at the similarities and differences between them from a historical, national, contemporary and regional perspective, one will find a meeting of minds and objectives.

Also read: Nitish Kumar has created storm which can challenge BJP: Shiv Sena

“We have emerged from the same churn of socialist movements and broadly share the same values. Sometimes there have been issues but none that are irreconcilable,” he said.

“Our comments against the previous government were made in the capacity of a responsive opposition. All the interventions made by me and my party colleagues were to make sure the government heard the people’s concerns and voices,” he asserted.

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