NDA’s PM candidate should have ‘secular credentials’: Nitish

NEW DELHI, June 19: Even as Narendra Modi is being projected as a prospective candidate of BJP for the post of Prime Minister, JD-U leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has put a spanner by saying that NDA’s nominee for the top post should be somebody with “secular credentials”.
Significantly, his views were echoed today by BJP leader and Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who said the coalition’s Prime Ministerial candidate should be “acceptable to all sections of the society.”
Kumar noted that India is a multi-religious and multi-lingual country and its “leader should not have rough edges in his personality”.
He emphasised that NDA will have to declare its candidate well ahead of the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2014 so that the electorate knows who they are voting for but insisted that he was not aspiring for the Prime Ministership.
“The NDA should have a leader who can feel for the underdeveloped states like Bihar… This leader should be acceptable to every constituent of the alliance. To me, the leader of the coalition should have secular credentials,” Kumar told The Economic Times.
“It (NDA leader) should not be someone who can develop developed states, but who has a feel for underdeveloped states,” the Bihar Chief Minister said.
The comments assume significance as these come at a time when the Gujarat Chief Minister is being talked about as a prospective candidate of BJP for the Prime Minister’s post.
Kumar has made known his unease with Narendra Modi a number of times earlier and because of that the Gujarat Chief Minister was kept away from campaigning in Bihar during the last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
Kumar said in the interview that the Prime Ministerial candidate should be someone who has absolute faith in democratic values.
“In a multi-religious and multi-lingual country like ours, the leader should not have rough edges in his personality. An alliance can win the confidence of the people only if the leader is seen as accomodating,” the Bihar Chief Minister said, adding he will air these views to NDA allies when the issue comes up.
Pushing for early projection of NDA candidate for Prime Ministership, Kumar said in the interview, “The electorate should know who they are voting for and who will lead the country.”
He, however, denied that he was aiming for the top post. “I am not in the race for Prime Ministership. I cannot even dream of that high office. The Prime Minister should be from the bigger party.
“We can only play a supporting role. But that depends on who leads the alliance. I have already outlined the qualities required of the leader,” he said.
Supporting Kumar’s views, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi said the NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate should be one having a liberal image like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“He should be acceptable to all sections of the society,” he said in Patna.
Congress leader and Law Minister Salman Khurshid welcomed Kumar’s remarks. “If there was any doubt about this in any political organisation, their own leaders coming out now and saying this clearly is a welcome thing,” he said.
At the same time, he wondered, “why does Nitish Kumar have fears that Indian Prime Minister will not be secular, I am not able to understand.” (PTI)