Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U President Nitish Kumar on Friday said his party is free to take its decisions, and admonished the opposition alliance for fielding "Bihar ki beti" (Bihar's daughter) Meira Kumar to lose.
Nitish's remarks came a day after 17 opposition parties led by Congress named former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as their presidential candidate and Rashtiya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav hailed her as "Bihar ki beti" as she has her roots there.
The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief has announced his support for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee Ram Nath Kovind, now former Governor of the state.
"It is a well thought out decision, and our sentiments are clear. Ram Nath Kovind's role as Bihar Governor has been admirable, he worked impartially. We are glad that our state's Governor is going to become the President of India," Nitish said.
On Wednesday, coalition partner Lalu Prasad Yadav had said he would ask Nitish Kumar to reconsider his decision to back NDA's candidate Kovind.
However, the Bihar Chief Minister completely negated the possibility of a rethink on his decision: "There is no question of changing the decision as it has been taken by the party's core committee... I am firm on my stand."
Asked to comment on Lalu's request to reconsider his decision, Nitish said: "I will not say anything on what others say and I will not react to what Lalu-ji told the media. Lalu-ji is free to say whatever he wants and has every right to appeal."Even I am proud of Bihar ki beti. But has she (Meira Kumar) been chosen to lose? Why didn't they field her in the last two presidential elections?"
He termed the opposition's stance as "losing strategy" and called for a better strategy for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
"Our party has always taken independent decisions on such matters. We supported Congress nominee Pranab Mukherjee in 2012 despite being part of the NDA," he said.
Nitish stressed that the JD-U decision to support Kovind should not be looked upon from a political angle. "It is not an issue of political confrontation at all. Presidential poll is a national issue. This is not an issue for the Bihar's ruling grand alliance."