Alluding to the volte-face by chief minister Nitish Kumar in the past, Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan on Thursday sounded a word of caution to the electorate and also sent out a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose party is fighting the election in alliance with the JD(U).
“Last time, honourable Nitish Kumar ji became the chief minister with the blessings of Lalu Prasad ji and then betrayed him and became the chief minister with the blessings of the Prime Minister. This time, he is taking blessings from Narendra Modi but what if he jumps to Lalu Prasad’s camp,” tweeted Paswan in Hindi.
Nitish Kumar, who has been on the winning side in all elections since 2005, is aiming for a fourth straight term. In his first two stints – in 2005 and 2010 – he led the NDA to power in Bihar. In 2014, the CM refused to accept Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate and parted ways with the BJP. In 2015, he engineered an unlikely alliance by teaming up with archrival Lalu Prasad’s RJD and formed the government yet again. However, the bonhomie was short-lived and Nitish Kumar called off ties with the RJD in 2017 and returned to the BJP fold.
On Wednesday, the three-time CM lost his cool when a section of the crowd started chanting ‘Lalu zindabad’ slogans at his poll rally. Halting his speech midway, he surveyed the section of the crowd from where the chants were coming and thundered “What are you saying”. As if for greater effect, he repeated it two more times. He then demanded that the person identify himself by raising his hand. There was a brief lull and then someone shouted “ chara chor hain sab, chara chor (fodder thief)”, a reference to Lalu Prasad Yadav, who has been convicted in four fodder scam cases and is serving jail sentences of different periods. The RJD chief is currently undergoing treatment at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi.
“Yahan pe hall mat karo, vote nahi dena hai toh mat do (Don’t make chaos here. If you don’t want to vote for me, then don’t),” the CM admonished the unknown hecklers. He then roped in the crowd, asking if such slogan shouting be allowed at the JD(U) rally, the crowd roared back in the CM’s favour.
The same day, Chirag Paswan faulted Nitish Kumar for “failing to develop the state at the same speed as other states have developed and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has envisioned”.
“Still talking of nali-gali (drains and lanes) and water to farms after 15 years in power is not going to serve any purpose,” Paswan said, referring to schemes introduced by Nitish Kumar to strengthen infrastructure. “Nali-gali is no yardstick of development.”
The LJP had pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar and is contesting the polls on its own, citing ideological differences with Nitish Kumar’s party.
The LJP is contesting 137 seats in the 243-member assembly and has fielded candidates, including the BJP rebels, in all the seats being fought by the JD(U ).
Despite being young, the Jamui MP said he was contesting the elections without caring about the outcome. “If Nitish Kumar has confidence in his work, he should also have the courage to contest election on his own,” he had said.
The JD(U) is contesting on 122 seats while the BJP is fighting on 121. The JD(U) has given seven seats out of it to the alliance partner Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha. The BJP has given 11 seats from its quota to Mukesh Sahni-led Vikassheel Insaan Party, the new entrant to the NDA alliance in Bihar.