Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has all the qualities to become the Prime Minister but he is not in the race for the post, his party, the Janata Dal (United) said on Sunday evening after a meeting of its National Council in Patna. Asked about the matter, Mr Kumar called it "nonsense". "I neither want nor expect (this)," he said.
Senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi, who briefed the media after the meeting, underscored it. "Nitish Kumar is not a claimant for the post of the Prime Minister. We are in the NDA and our candidate for the Prime Minister's post is Narendra Modi... Although Nitish Kumar has all the qualities required in a prime minister," said Mr Tyagi.
Earlier this month, senior JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha -- after being named the leader of the JD(U) parliamentary party -- had called Mr Nitish Kumar "PM material".
"People made Narendra Modi PM today and he's doing good work. But there are others in the country who have the potential to become PM. Of them is Nitish Kumar. He should be called PM-material and it's not about challenging PM Modi," Mr Kushwaha had said.
Mr Kumar, however, had refuted it soon after, saying "There's nothing like this. Why should I be (PM Material)? I am not interested in all these things".
It, however, had ruffled feathers in the camp of the BJP, which is now a senior partner in the alliance.
"Some leaders said he is PM Material. But there is no vacancy. Being PM material and making a claim are different things. There is a heaven and hell difference... We are a small party. How can we make such a claim?" said party National President Lallan Singh.
The JD(U) also passed several other resolutions, which are not expected to please the BJP. These include ensuring a caste-based census and making public the findings of the Rohini Commission, which was formed by the central government to identity extreme backward castes at the national level.
On the issue of population control, the party also differed with BJP and in yet another resolution, stated that instead of formulating a law, public awareness and education among girls will be much more effective in checking population growth.
Nitish Kumar also ensured that the party stakes claim for seats in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections to be held next year from BJP, otherwise it will be free to field candidates.
But the first preference would be to contest as part of the NDA alliance, said Mr Tyagi.