Sharad Pawar prefers Nitish over Rahul to lead ‘united opposition’ in 2019 elections
New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s ambitious anti-BJP alliance call for 2019 general elections is gaining popularity among opposition parties with each passing day. The latest to lend his weight behind the Janata Dal (United) leader’s campaign to build regional parties as a national centripetal force against the BJP is NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
The Nationalist Congress Party chief feels that Nitish will be the most credible face to lead the ‘united opposition’ against the BJP-led NDA in 2019 Lok Sabha polls and that a Sonia Gandhi-led Congress will be more effective than a Rahul Gandhi-led party.
"As of today in India, if the Opposition has to come together and provide an alternative, he (Nitish Kumar) is the number one name," the 75-year-old politician told Economic Times.
“Nitish’s victory in the assembly elections last November in Bihar had sent a signal to all those unhappy with Congress and BJP,” he added.
The NCP leader also made it clear that his party will be ‘open to associate itself with such a non-BJP set-up’ as Congress ‘does not have such a face and Kumar, because he is a state chief minister, has authority’.
He, however, maintained that the Congress is crucial to any anti-BJP alliance.
"Sonia Gandhi enjoys more acceptability including with other opposition parties. Some of us fought with her and we have seen the change in her. She is very accommodative," he said.
On Rahul Gandhi, he said that it will be too early to give a verdict on him as he has also evolved with time and making efforts to reach out to people.
“It depends on how Rahul performs over the next three years. As of today, I say Rahul Gandhi is the only leader who is practically visiting most states”, Pawar said.
On the ongoing controversy over AgustaWestland scam, Pawar said that the government is ‘not serious’ about pursuing the case, which has embroiled the top Congress leadership in kickback allegations.
A few days ago, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav had promised to back Nitish as future prime minister candidate. “Yes of course. There is no doubt about it,” he had said, supporting Nitish’s call for a ‘Sangh-free India’ and formation of an anti-BJP front for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Nitish recently took over as national president of the JD(U). He even started the process of merger with parties like RLD-led by Ajit Singh, JVM-led by Babulal Marani. Nitish’s anointment in the party line is indication that he is preparing for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls along with election strategist Prashant Kishor, who has emerged as his most dependable ally after playing a vital role in 2015 Bihar assembly polls.