With the Congress and the NCP backing JD-U leader Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial candidate in the coming Bihar elections, Lalu Prasad’s RJD is in a dilemma.
With Nitish Kumar projecting a secular and progressive image, the Congress wants to support at the head of a “secular alliance” to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The National Congress Party (NCP) is all for Nitish Kumar. This has put pressure on Lalu Prasad to take a call – either to accept Nitish Kumar as the leader of a common alliance or go it alone.
After the Congress publicly decided to ally with the JD-U, NCP leader Tariq Anwar supported the idea. The Congress and NCP support has given an advantage to Nitish Kumar vis-a-vis Lalu Prasad. “Nitish Kumar’s image as one who has tried to develop Bihar and provided good governance has forced the Congress to side with him,” said Congress leader Ashok Choudhary. “The Congress has to project someone who can aggressively counter (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s development plank in the polls,” he added.
On his part, Nitish Kumar made it clear that the JD-U would go for a tie-up with the Congress. “We enjoy very good relations with the Congress. It has been supporting our government,” he said. “We want it to contest the election in alliance with us.”
Nitish Kumar’s comments come at a time when RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has come out against projecting Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial candidate of a possible RJD-JD-U alliance. The Congress threw its weight behind Nitish Kumar after its vice president Rahul Gandhi preferred the JD-U leader over Lalu Prasad. “Even ahead of the Lok Sabha polls (last year), Rahul was inclined to go with Nitish Kumar. But (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi opted for Lalu,” said another senior Congress leader, Ashok Yadav.
Sonia Gandhi also wants an alliance with the JD-U but she is equally keen to partnering with Lalu Prasad so as to consolidate all anti-BJP votes. The BJP is divided over whom its chief ministerial candidate should be. JD-U leaders feel that the Congress support to Nitish Kumar will provide him bargaining power when Nitish Kumar talks to the RJD.