Nitish wants BJP to name PM nominee, later denies saying so

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was on Sunday quoted as having said that BJP should declare its Prime Ministerial candidate in advance of next year's Lok Sabha polls, but he later denied having said so.

A leading Hindi daily quoted Kumar as having said, "The general elections will be fought the same way like the way Atal Bihari Vajpayee's name was put forward ahead of the polls.

"BJP will have to declare its candidate. The party is yet declare its name officially," Kumar, who is a key leader of JD(U), a partner of BJP-led NDA, reportedly said.

After the "interview" was published, a statement issued by the CM's Secretariat said, "The Chief Minister did not give any interview to Hindi daily."

It referred to a private channel quoting the report in the Hindi daily.

This is the second occasion that the Chief Minister has issued a denial on an interview. On August 16, last year, he had denied having given any interview to a magazine saying he will break his alliance with BJP if Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is made its PM candidate in the 2014 polls.

"I never gave any interview to the magazine which has been quoted in the news," Kumar had said, referring to a reported interview in The Week magazine which had later pulled it out of its website.

Meanwhile, Bihar JD(U) President Bashishtha Narayan Singh today said declaring name of the Prime Ministerial nominee would benefit NDA.

"Declaration of name of V P Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee as PM candidate had helped in the elections...Declaring PM candidate after consulting all partners before polls will benefit the NDA in the elections," Singh, an MP, said.

Voices within BJP pitching for Modi as the party's PM candidate have grown louder with three party Mps—Yashwant Sinha, Ram Jethmalani and C P Thakur--backing him but discomfort among NDA allies has been visible with Shiv Sena batting for Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj for the top post.

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