Nitish : No challenger to Modi in 2019

Within a week of rejoining hands with the BJP to form the government in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said no one had the capability to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 general election, while Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was not in a position to take any decision on Opposition unity.

On parting ways with the RJD, he reiterated he had only two options left: either to compromise with corruption or come out of the grand alliance government.

“No other party will be in power in 2019…No one has the capability to take on Narendra Modi in the 2019 general election”, Mr. Kumar said, while addressing journalists at his official residence in Patna. Asked about Mr. Rahul Gandhi, who earlier had said he knew for the last 3-4 months that he [Nitish] would come out of the grand alliance government in Bihar, he said, “when he knew why did he meet me then?”

On his break-up with the RJD, Mr. Kumar reiterated: “I chose not to compromise with corruption which I have never done in my career.”

When it was pointed out that in 2014 he said he would prefer to be finished with the BJP, Mr. Kumar said, “it was said during those days…in a different context…you can quote my earlier statements to annoy me …you keep doing it.” But, what about his national ambition now? “Serving a State like Bihar is doing a national service…my party is a regional party and I’ll keep serving the people of Bihar”, he said.

Asked if his party would join the NDA government at the Centre, Mr. Kumar said, “The national executive committee meeting of my party will be held in Patna on August 19 and we’ll take a decision only after that.”