Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday reacted with distaste to the contention of his party JD(U) that he is Prime Minister material, which has caused consternation in the BJP, an alliance partner, and fuelled speculations about his future moves across the political spectrum.
The septuagenarian expressed his aversion to the hubbub when journalists drew his attention to Sushil Kumar Modi, his former deputy, maintaining an eloquent silence when asked about the JD(U) de facto leader fitting the bill for the top job.
Don't talk to me about such drivel. It was a party meeting, with a lot on the agenda. The cadre choose to speak as they please on such occasions, Kumar said, referring to the JD(U) national council meeting of Sunday where the party had sought to make a cult figure out of the leader who has now become the longest serving chief minister of the state.
Sushil Modi, one of the tallest BJP leaders in the state, had on earlier occasions been effusive in his praise of Kumar. Their closeness is perceived to have left the saffron party top brass uncomfortable and is blamed for the sidelining of the former Deputy CM who has lost his chair and, despite strong speculations, failed to make it to the Union cabinet.
Kumar was talking to reporters here after conducting an aerial survey of flood-hit Darbhanga and Madhubani districts in north Bihar.
He was also asked how long he was willing to wait for a positive response to emanate from the Centre with regard to caste census, a demand that saw him heading an all-party delegation to for it before Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Well, the census has not yet begun. Until it takes off, we can remain hopeful of our demand being heeded. In any case, it is the Centre's prerogative to accept or reject our demand, said Kumar.
The chief minister said care was being taken by his government to ensure flood relief in the right earnest.
The water level is receding in most places. Still, the month of September has always been critical for Bihar. We cannot afford to be lax, he said.Replying to another query, he said his government was sensitive to job losses that took place not only in our state, but world over during the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed confidence that things would soon look up with most restrictions on economic activities having been lifted.