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What will Nitish do if Modi is PM candidate, asks Lalu

Posted on Dec 03, 06:54PM | IANS

In the wake of senior BJP leaders backing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the job of prime minister, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Monday threw a challenge at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, asking him to make clear his stance.

Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde had earlier made statements that Narendra Modi was a fit candidate for prime ministership.

Lalu Prasad reminded the Bihar chief minister of a statement he made a few months ago, that he would end his alliance with the BJP if that party projected the Gujarat chief minister as prime minister in the 2014 general elections.

"What will Nitish Kumar do if the BJP goes ahead and projects Modi as prime minister candidate for the 2014 parliamentary polls, as top BJP leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Gopinath Munde have already supported Modi? That indicates the mood in the BJP," Lalu told newspersons at Madhepura during his "parivartan yatra" (journey for change).

Lalu said it was high time that Nitish Kumar made clear his stand on the issue.

"Going by the statements of BJP leaders supporting Narendra Modi for prime minister, Nitish Kumar should make it clear whether he will endorse their stand or oppose it," Lalu Prasad said.

However, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said no formal announcement of a prime ministerial candidate had been made by the BJP, and that the opinions so far expressed were only of individuals.

"Lalu Prasad's remarks are related to the statements of BJP leaders in their individual capacity. We have to wait till the party makes a formal announcement," he said.

The JD-U has been vocal in its opposition to Narendra Modi coming to the state.

Modi evokes strong reactions in Bihar, particularly from the minorities, for his alleged involvement in the Gujarat riots in which almost 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

Tensions continue in Bihar over those riots, even though it is now a decade since the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Nitish Kumar had earlier objected to his photographs with Narendra Modi in newspaper advertisements during the BJP national executive meeting in Patna in June 2010.

Several JD-U leaders had demanded that the Gujarat chief minister should not be allowed to campaign during the Bihar assembly polls.

Nitish Kumar has claimed earlier that it would not take a minute for his party to break ties with the BJP if the latter projected Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.

Lalu also hit out at Narendra Modi during the 'parivartan yatra' meeting, describing him as a communal leader responsible for butchering hundreds of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.

Earlier, Arun Jaitley had said that the Gujarat chief minister is "very successful and popular and we will obviously praise him".

Sushma Swaraj had Saturday told reporters in Vadodara that Modi is "definitely fit for the job (of prime minister), and there is no doubt about it".

"Narendra Modi is capable of becoming prime minister and I am satisfied with Sushma Swaraj's opinion... He has potential," Munde had said in Ahmedabad.