In comments targeted at the Congress, the Janata Dal (United) chief also said the Opposition
parties should build “alternative narratives” against the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rather than remaining prisoners to “reactive narratives”.
In an apparent swipe at Congress
Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, he said “more than having a face, the Opposition
should have alternative narratives”. Kumar said his was a small party. “We very well know the futility of nourishing prime ministerial ambitions. It is seen that the candidate whose name is in circulation never gets the post,” said the JD-U national
In New Delhi, Congress
leaders said their recent war of words with Kumar, in the wake of his JD(U)
deciding to support the National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) presidential candidate, was a thing of the past and the “grand alliance” in Bihar
Addressing a press conference in Patna, Kumar asked the Congress
to take the lead as “a big party in setting an alternative narrative” for the next general elections. “Just talking of unity among Opposition
parties isn’t enough,” the chief minister
said on the sidelines of his weekly Lok Samvad programme. “There must be an agenda against the BJP-led government at the Centre. This must not be just in reaction to what the BJP
says or does, but an alternative narrative. Congress, being the largest party, must lead from the front.”
He said the grand alliance won in Bihar
in 2015 because, besides coming together, it had a vision and programme for the state’s development by way of “seven resolves”, while the NDA
constituents lacked this.
spokesperson K C Tyagi
said common grounds for the Opposition
could include farm distress, disinvestment and the recent lynching. He said leaders of the 17 Opposition
parties should visit the house of 15-year-old Junaid Khan, who was killed last week by a mob in Ballabhgarh near Delhi.
At a meeting on Sunday, Kumar had openly blamed the Congress
for heavily denting the impact of a large league of Opposition
parties that he helped bring together. He also blamed the Congress
for mishandling of alliances ahead of the recent Assembly elections.
Criticism from Congress
and other Opposition
parties had been swift. Congress
leader Ghulam Nabi Azad accused Kumar of being flexible with his principles. Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury had told a newspaper: “Nitish Kumar
was being considered for the 2019 elections as the potential candidate to lead the non-Congress Opposition.
Now there’s a question mark on that, it is almost closed.”