- Sunday's remarks are seen as opening of a new front against the Congress
- Nitish Kumar said he would not toe the Congress line
- Mr Kumar's stand a signal that no one can take him for granted
While his differences with alliance partner Lalu Yadav raised speculations about a break-up of the alliance, Sunday's remarks are seen as the opening of a new front against the Congress. Party leaders who attended the meet said the Chief Minister touched upon the alliance's future, saying he would take a stand at the right time "without bothering about consequences".
His stand also was seen as a signal that when it comes to making decisions on national issues, no one can take him for granted.
Mr Kumar had created a huge stir with his decision to support the BJP candidate, former Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, for the President's post. His change of stance -- given that he was the one who started the idea of the opposition uniting to name its own candidate -- came as a shock to the opposition. He has also refused to back former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar once her candidature was announced by the opposition -- a decision Lalu Yadav has called a "historic blunder".
A bitter Ghulam Nabi Azad, the General Secretary of the Congress, accused Mr Kumar of "ideological and political opportunism". "People who have one principle make one decision, but those who believe in many principles make different decisions," Mr Azad had said.
Calling the allegations nothing less that "character assassination", Janata Dal (United) spokesperson KC Tyagi had admitted that the party was extremely upset. The JD(U) said it had made it clear to the other opposition parties its support to Mr Kovind was a one-time matter.
"Keeping someone in good humour is not in my nature," Mr Kumar told the simmering party workers in Patna. "Even the late Ram Manohar Lohia used to say Congress is Sarkari Gandhivadi (bureaucratic Gandhians)," he added.
He also said the Congress had let him down when he took the initiative twice -- before Assam and Uttar Pradesh elections -- to build a common front against the BJP, a strategy that has paid off in Bihar. In both states, the BJP came to power, he pointed out.
Even in the matter of the Presidential elections, the JD(U) has said the Congress which failed to seize the initiative in the Presidential elections by failing to nominate a candidate in time. It was said that Mr Kumar was in favour of announcing the name of former Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi as the opposition's Presidential candidate.