Bihar Assembly Elections: Nitish Kumar May Do Another Volte Face, Chirag Paswan Cautions the BJP
Jehanabad: Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) Chief Chirag Paswan during an election campaign roadshow, in Jehanabad district, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (PTI Photo)
Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan on Thursday cautioned the BJP that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar might do yet another volte face and re-align with Lalu Prasads RJD which he had dumped a few years ago to return to the NDA. Paswan also alleged that Kumar, who heads the JD(U), "conspired" to make the BJP fight on less than 157 seats, the number it had contested in 2015, and pointed out that the Chief Minister had agreed to field his party's candidates in only 101 constituencies when he was contesting in alliance with his "political guru" the jailed RJD supremo.
"In the last assembly polls, respected@NitishKumar became the Chief Minister with the blessings of respected @laluprasadrjd whom he ditched and again grabbed the chair with the blessings of the Prime Minister", Paswan tweeted. "May he not again rush towards @laluprasadrjd, seeking refuge, after receiving the blessings of @narendramodi", he added.
Paswans barbs referred to the events of July, 2017 when Kumar had abruptly resigned as chief minister, sullen over the RJDs refusal to heed mounting pressure for the resignation of his then deputy and Prasad's younger son Tejashwi Yadav, whose name had cropped up in a money laundering case. In less than 24 hours, Kumar armed with unconditional support of the BJP, his old ally which he had dumped in 2013 again took oath as the chief minister.
Initially, LJP leader Pashupati Kumar Paras, younger brother of party founder and Chirag's late father Ram Vilas Paswan, was a member of the new cabinet headed by Kumar. However, after Paras got elected to the Lok Sabha last year, the party was left with no representation in the state cabinet though Ram Vilas Paswan retained a cabinet berth in the Narendra Modi -2 government.
Chirag wished Union Home Minister Amit Shah on his birthday Thursday calling him his "guardian." "Best wishes to the country's Home Minister, guardian Amit Shah on his birthday. Sir you inspire lakhs of youth like me to do something for the country. May god always keep you healthy," Chirag tweeted on the senior BJP leader's 56th birthday. Chirag, who took over as the party chief from his father less than a year ago, announced his decision to go solo in the Bihar assembly polls last month.
The LJP president has vowed to ensure the defeat of the JD(U), whose chief he has accused of having misbehaved with his late father and refused to give smaller alliance partners their due. The 37 years old LJP MP has been, however, swearing by his loyalty towards Modi and the BJP and repeatedly asserting that he would work towards formation of a new government headed by the saffron party.
Paswans puzzling stance has given rise to misgivings among the JD(U) rank and file that he enjoyed the tacit approval of the BJP which has been anxious to gain the upper hand in Bihar, the only Hindi heartland state where it has always played the second fiddle. Nonetheless, BJP leaders have been trying hard to appease the mercurial JD(U) boss with repeated assertions of trust in Kumars leadership and attempts to distance the party from Paswan.
Paswan has been busy muddying the waters between the JD(U) and the BJP, going hammers and tongs against the former and soft on the latter. His party has been circulating posters with the tagline "Nitish Asambhav" seeking to underscore that it was impossible to accept him as the chief minister again.
The LJP social media accounts also carry photographs of its workers donning masks of prominent Bihar BJP leaders and carrying the posters the implicit suggestion being all was not well between the two parties though these were contesting polls in alliance. Chirag, who visited Nawada during the day charged the chief minister with neglecting youths and failing to check migration of workers outside the state.
"Nitish Kumar has no roadmap to give jobs to the youths. Corruption is at its peak under him," he told reporters in Nawada.