Will Nitish Support Opposition Candidate For Vice-Presidency?
New Delhi: In what could be a deft political move, Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is understood to have declared his party’s support to Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who is the nominee of 18 Opposition parties for the post of the Vice-President of India.
This comes in contrast to JD (U) extending support to Ram Nath Kovind, who is the Presidential candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA. The Opposition parties are supporting Meira Kumar, former Lok Sabha Speaker and Congress leader.
This development comes only as déjà vu because the JD (U), as an alliance partner of NDA in 2012, had supported the UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee for the post of President and backed BJP stalwart Jaswant Singh for Vice-Presidentship. While Pranab Mukherjee won, Jaswant Singh lost to Hamid Ansari, whose retirement has led to the current Vice-Presidential election.
Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi had earlier called on Nitish Kumar seeking the Bihar Chief Minister’s support for the candidature of Gopalkrishna Gandhi. It may be recalled Nitish Kumar had not attended the meeting organised by the Opposition parties, which finalised the name of Gopalkrishna Gandhi. It was instead attended by senior JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav.
“Janata Dal (United) takes its decisions based on the person’s image,” a senior JD (U) leader disclosed on Wednesday in the backdrop of his party’s proposed support to Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
Meanwhile, Congress sources say Rahul Gandhi is trying to patch up with Nitish Kumar and has warned his party leaders of stern action if they target the Bihar CM.
Incidentally, JD (U) was quite annoyed when senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad castigated Nitish Kumar for extending support to the NDA candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, for the post of the President. Azad had been caustic that Nitish wanted to ensure the defeat of ‘Bihar ki beti’ Meira Kumar, who is the opposition candidate. Even the State leaders of the Congress had attacked the Bihar CM for this decision.
The bonding between Rahul Gandhi and Nitish Kumar is well known among political circles. It was on Rahul Gandhi’s intervention that Congress put pressure on RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav to announce Nitish Kumar as a Chief Ministerial candidate of the Mahagathbandhan, the Opposition grand alliance, before the 2015 Bihar Assembly poll. The Mahagathbandhan won, but is now under severe threat, with JD (U) demanding that RJD come clear on the resignation of Tejashwi Yadav, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, following registration of an FIR against him by the CBI. But that is another story.