Bihar CM Nitish Kumar
After putting the BJP on the defensive by demanding an investigation into the Pegasus spyware scandal and teaming up with rival RJD to demand a caste census, key ally JD(U) ratcheted up the pressure on the BJP on Sunday by requesting an NDA coordination committee at the state and central levels to "discuss several issues we disagree on."
At its national council meeting, the party also said that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar possesses "all the attributes" that a Prime Minister should possess.
“Just as there was a coordination committee of the NDA under the AB Vajpayee government, we would welcome a similar committee now to tackle various subjects we disagree on,” JD(U) principal general secretary and national spokesperson K C Tyagi told reporters after the council meeting. It would facilitate the alliance's seamless operation and avoid unnecessary comments from NDA leaders.”
“We have also passed a resolution at the party's national council saying Nitish Kumar might not be in the PM race but has all the traits that a PM should have,” Tyagi later told The Indian Express.
Asked about the need for such a resolution, Tyagi stated: “There have often been insinuations from some quarters (on Nitish Kumar’s prime ministerial chances), and we wanted to keep the record straight”.
The JD(U) leader also stated that the party would keep pressing for a caste census. “We are waiting for a positive response from the PM,” he stated.
When asked about the JD(Proposal )'s for a coordination committee, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Tarkishore Prasad sounded hesitant.“We support it because it will help us coordinate on various issues,” he stated.
Nitish Kumar led a 10-party delegation visited Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 23 to discuss the caste census issue. The Chief Minister has already sought an investigation into claims of phone eavesdropping using the Pegasus spyware.
The BJP is apprehensive of taking any action on a caste census, especially with the upcoming UP elections. Several party leaders have privately stated that the party cannot afford to alienate the OBCs, who have grown to be an important support base in recent years.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai remarked in a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha on July 20 that: “The Government of India has decided as a matter of policy not to enumerate caste-wise populations other than SCs and STs in the census.”
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