'Nobody else (other than Modi) can occupy the PM's post. Now nobody has the strength to beat Modi,' Kumar said. Photograph: (Others)
The JD(U) chief also took digs at both his former alliance partners -- the RJD and the Congress
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has said there is nobody strong enough to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 general elections.
He made the comments at his first press conference after being sworn in as chief minister of Bihar for a sixth time.
"Nobody else (other than Modi) can occupy the PM's post. Now nobody has the strength to beat Modi," Kumar said.
He also took digs at both his former alliance partners -- the RJD and the Congress. The RJD's Lalu Prasad and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had accused him of forging an alliance with the "communal" BJP.
"Making huge money hiding behind the shield of secularism ...is this secularism? ... I need no certificate of secularism from anybody," he said.
On Rahul Gandhi claiming that he had known for the last three to four months that Kumar was walking out of the coalition, he said: "Then why did he (Gandhi) meet me when I had gone to Delhi and sought his intervention...to ask RJD to come clean on the accusations.
"Congress did not act on time in Assam also when AGP had come on board. It cost us the Assam polls," he said, adding "we can be a partner but not a camp follower."
Kumar had till some time ago been seen as a possible contender to Modi. But asked about his role in national politics, he said, "Ours is a small party which does not harbour big national aspirations."
When asked about the possibility of the JD(U) becoming a part of the NDA at the national level, with ministers in the Modi government, Kumar said the JD(U) national executive would meet in Patna on August 19 and all issues would be decided there.
(With inputs from PTI)