×

India

Nitish Kumar Downplays Talk Of National Role, But Posters Tell A Different Tale

The Bihar chief minister is no jumla (rhetoric) and all haqiqat (reality), says one of the billboards, while another declares 'mann ki nahi, kaam ki', directly pitching him against PM Modi.

Nitish Kumar
A hoarding featuring Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, outside the party office in Patna, Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. (PTI Photo)

Patna: JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar may have been deflecting talk about his national ambitions but the posters outside the party headquarters here tell quite a different story — some taking swipes at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others proclaiming him as the man who will herald change in 2024.

The Bihar chief minister is no jumla (rhetoric) and all haqiqat (reality), says one of the billboards, while another declares ‘mann ki nahi, kaam ki‘ (he is all about work and not ‘mann‘), directly pitching him against Prime Minister Modi.

Some of the posters assert Kumar will make an India of ‘Ek Samaaj, Shrestha Samaaj‘ in 2024 and that badlaaw (change) will happen as a beginning has been made.

As the Janata Dal (United) holds its two-day national meet here from Saturday, there is a tangible anticipation in its rank and file that the conclave will prove to be a launch pad for Kumar’s projection as the opposition’s prime ministerial face in the build up to the next Lok Sabha polls in 2024.

However, the party, in its formal statements and resolutions, may not make any direct call for this as it is mindful of the need for a general consensus in the opposition camp which include many regional satraps, besides the Congress.

The fact that no opposition party, except its ally Rashtriya Janata Dal, has so far come out in the support of such an idea is also a factor in the JD(U) leadership’s calculation.

Its resolutions are likely to focus on the prevailing national situation. They will highlight the “problems” such as price rise and unemployment facing the country and the need for the opposition unity to take on the BJP, party sources said.

Its president Lalan Singh has often said that Kumar is not a contender for the opposition’s choice for its face for the 2024 polls while stressing that such a proposal can be considered if other parties make it.

Party sources said Kumar, 71, Bihar’s longest serving chief minister, will visit Delhi after the two-day meeting to meet opposition leaders, including the Congress top brass, mainly to thank them for their support after he recently broke ties with the BJP and to emphasise on wider unity among BJP’s rivals.

JD(U) national general secretary Afaque Ahmed Khan said around 110 party leaders from across the country, including presidents from its 26 state units, will attend the national executive meeting on Saturday.

More than 250 party leaders will attend the national council on Sunday. Kumar is expected to address the conclave on both days, he said.

On his part, Kumar has consistently sought to play down speculation about his national ambition.

“Please leave aside such questions (chhodiye ye sab baat),” was his reply when journalists approached him at his party office with the query.

Posters and billboards put up at the same office and outside tell a different story though.