Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked the BJP, his alliance partner, to name its Prime Ministerial candidate well in advance of the 2014 general elections. He maintained that the Prime Minister should have secular credentials and a liberal frame of mind, with absolute faith in democratic values, considering that India is a multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual country.
The Congress has been projecting itself as a secular party, whose leaders have faith in democratic values. However, Opposition parties accuse Congress of using secularism as a plank for appeasement of the minorities. Congress also seems to be losing its popularity among the masses due to the perceived involvement of its leaders in various scams and many other factors. If Nitish Kumar leads his party out of the BJP alliance, he is not likely to join the Congress alliance.
The Congress does not seem to have a Prime Ministerial candidate that it can project. It has been said that Dr Manmohan Singh will not continue as the PM after the next general elections and Rahul Gandhi is still not mature enough to lead the nation. A party full of sycophants, it will, likely, find it difficult to elect one leader, so the tamasha will take place where a candidate ‘selected’ by the High Command is “unanimously elected” by the Parliamentary Party. The result – no allegiance to the “unanimous” choice. Seems to be little chance of discovering an ‘accidental Prime Minister” like late Narasimha Rao.
However, Nitish Kumar could very well be the best choice for the next Prime Minister. He has stated, it is true, that he is not in the race for the PM’s post and cannot even dream of that high office. Yet, to use his own words, he is “a leader who feels for the underdeveloped states”, a leader who has developed an underdeveloped state. He has improved the situation in what was a “backward” state when he took over its reins and fast caught up with developed states, for which he was lauded by the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. Besides being seen as ‘Mr. Clean’ , Nitish Kumar has the capability to address the country’s problems in a decisive manner and to turn the country back into a vibrant economy. I do not see why leaders of other regional parties will not join Nitish Kumar in an alliance to form the next government at the Centre. My impression has been that all the regional leaders want to be central leaders in their own right and cannot get round to serve under one leader. But Nitish Kumar, as I see him, has the leadership capabilities to take them along.