Chief minister Nitish Kumar speaks at the rally in Motihari on Thursday. (PTI)
Bettiah, March 6: Chief minister Nitish Kumar today for the first time lifted the veil on his prime ministerial ambitions, asserting he was “much better qualified than those roaming around” for the job.
Without naming either the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi or Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Nitish questioned their credentials. “While one (read Modi) does not have the experience of Parliament another (read Rahul) is bereft of the same in running a state,” Nitish said on the sidelines of his Sankalp Yatra in north Bihar’s Champaran region.
Asked specifically if he would throw in his hat in the PM ring, Nitish shot back: “Am I less qualified than them?”
Nitish was, however, heard clarifying to a local TV channel that his party was small and “full of humble people who believe in working sincerely for the state than making tall claims”. He categorically claimed, “Believe it, none of those whose names are doing the rounds will make it to the PM post”.
“Jo ghoom rahe hain woh kabhi nahin banengein. Jinka naam nahin sunai pad raha hai wahi banega. (The one roaming around will never become prime minister. One whose name is not heard will eventually become PM)”.
Replying to a query, Nitish described the third front in the making, of which the JD(U) is a part, as the “first front” with the realistic wherewithal to emerge the largest none-Congress, none-BJP block in Lok Sabha.
Pointed out that Samajwadi supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa, too, were harbouring prime ministerial ambitions, Nitish asked: “What is wrong with that? Are these leaders less qualified than those roaming around giving the impression they (read Narendra Modi) have become PM? Every party has the strategy to maximise support among people.”
By making his ambition clear, Nitish has, apparently, tried to galvanise his cadres by addressing the question in people’s minds that with no prime ministerial candidate of its own, his party was merely trying to block the BJP mascot’s chances. Categorically ruling out poll surveys predicting Narendra Modi’s surge, Nitish said: “Let the results come. You will not find anyone whose names are doing the rounds. The third front will be far ahead of the BJP and Congress and will have its prime minister.”
He warned the electorate against “falling in the trap” of people (read Modi) spreading canards. “If they (BJP) win they will disturb a performing government in the state. And if we get strength in Lok Sabha, we will work towards more progress in the state.”
But the Sankalp Yatra Nitish kicked off at Bagaha yesterday has been drawing a lacklustre response. It is perceived that Nitish’s clamour for special category status for Bihar has turned “monotonous” with the electorate — particularly his cadre and supporters — who are looking for more fire and brimstone from Nitish to match that of his rival, Narendra Modi.