The opposition's Presidential poll candidate Yashwant Sinha on Friday revealed that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar refused to take his calls when he tried to seek the latter's support for his candidature. Sinha, who had been a cabinet colleague of Kumar during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure, also expressed surprise at the lack of support from Bihar's chief minister given that he had roots in the state and that Odisha's CM Naveen Patnaik has rooted for Draupadi Murmu as she is a daughter of the state.
After I was declared the Presidential candidate by the opposition, I tried to call up Nitish Kumar a number of times. He never answered, perhaps thinking I do not enjoy the status to be worthy of his time, said Sinha, betraying a sense of insult and bitterness. He was talking to reporters after canvassing for the July 18 polls. Leader of the opposition in Bihar assembly Tejashwi Yadav, Bollywood actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha and former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani's close aide Sudheendra Kulkarni were among those present on the occasion.
Sinha said it will be good for Bihar if, after a gap of 60 years, another son of the soil occupies the top post which was held by Dr Rajendra Prasad. This is the city where I was born, received my education, taught at the Patna University and served in my capacity as a Bihar cadre IAS officer. The former BJP leader said he failed to understand why Nitish Kumar, who had refused to support another Bihari Meira Kumar in the last Presidential polls, was still not ready to take a leaf out of Patnaik's book or that of the Shiv Sena which had supported Pratibha Patil because she was a Maharashtrian though fielded by the Congress-led UPA to which it was opposed at that time.
The outspoken bureaucrat-turned-politician, who has been alleging that Murmu will be a rubber stamp asked people to recall the photograph of filing of nomination papers by the NDA candidate in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. People talk of Pratibha Patil as having been a rubber stamp but even when she was in the fray she handed over her own papers. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looked on. In the case of Murmu, it was the current Prime Minister who handed over the papers. That image is a screaming sign of the shape of things to come, said Sinha.
He was also full of praise for Tejashwi Yadav, with whose father Lalu Prasad he has had many slanging matches on the floor of the Parliament. Tejashwi Yadav has done a wonderful job in rallying along different parties in the opposition. The state, like the country, has fallen in the wrong hands. I hope people will repose their trust in him, said Sinha.
Speaking on the sidelines of the press conference, Shatrughan Sinha, who wears his love for his home state on his sleeves, thereby earning the epithet Bihari babu, hoped that Yashwant Sinha will get wholehearted support from the state. It is an election in which no whip is issued. It is a historic opportunity to heed one's conscience and act in national interest. The game is not over till votes are cast, said the Asansol MP.