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‘All parties must united for 2024’: Nitish denies PM ambitions, but JD(U) posters pitch him against Narendra Modi

Flustered over five of his party MLAs joining the BJP in Manipur, Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar on Saturday questioned the propriety and constitutionality of the alleged poaching by his former ally.

Talking to reporters at the party office here, where a two-day national conclave is underway, Kumar reiterated his call for a united opposition in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. 

“Is it proper? Is it constitutional? Is it in line with established norms? They are doing so everywhere. Hence all parties must unite in 2024 for a positive mandate,” said the JD(U) leader who is being pitched for a “national” role by his party.

Asked about reports that he will be visiting Delhi in the next few days to meet top leaders and explore the prospects of opposition unity, Kumar replied in the affirmative but did not divulge details.

Kumar may have been deflecting talk about his national ambitions but the posters outside the party headquarters, put up for the JD(U) national conclave, 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, 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.

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.