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BJP Should Decide If Action Needed Against Chirag Paswan's LJP for ‘Cutting Votes’, Says Nitish Kumar

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addresses a press conference at JD(U) office in Patna on Thursday. (PTI)

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addresses a press conference at JD(U) office in Patna on Thursday. (PTI)

Quashing reports that he may be sworn in next week, Kumar said it has not been decided yet when the oath-taking ceremony will take place, whether after Diwali or Chhath Puja, adding he has not staked claim to the chair.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose Janata Dal (United) won the Assembly elections with BJP as part of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), on Thursday said voters have given the alliance the mandate and it will form the government.

Kumar said he has made no claim to chief ministership and that the decision was that of the alliance. "One thing is very clear. I have never personally staked claim [to the Chief Minister's chair]. Since we are the allies of NDA, whatever decision the NDA takes will be binding. I have not made any such claims," he said in response to a question about if it was getting difficult for him to hold on to the CM's chair, having secured fewer seats than the BJP.

"People have given the mandate to the NDA and it will form the government," said Kumar at a press conference in Patna.

In his first interaction with the media after winning the elections, Kumar admitted that Chirag Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) had damaged the JD(U)'s prospects on many seats. But to a question of whether the JD(U) had demanded that the BJP sever all ties with the LJP (which is the BJP's ally at the centre), Kumar said it would be the BJP's decision.

The LJP has been blamed for the JDU's low tally in the elections and has been accused of "cutting votes" against Kumar's party and damaging its prospects. "If some action is to be taken (against LJP), the BJP has to take it. It's for the BJP to decide whether or not the LJP should be retained in the NDA," said Kumar.

"It is true that we campaigned for the entire NDA. But some party," said Kumar, alluding to the LJP, "does not have candidates but finds people against us to cut votes, these attempts are visible. Media has also been reporting about it...Our analysis is also going on."

On being asked whether he was disappointed having secured such a wafer-thin majority, Kumar said, "What is the problem with this mandate? There shouldn't be any problem in governing the state with this mandate."

Kumar also called his widely reported statement -- about the recent elections being his last -- a misunderstanding.

Quashing reports that he may be sworn in next week, Kumar said, "It is not decided yet when the oath-taking ceremony will take place, whether after Diwali or Chhath Puja. We are analysing the results of this election. The members of all four parties will meet tomorrow."

A close aide earlier in the day said that Kumar may take oath as Bihar chief minister for a fourth successive term next week but the date has not been finalised yet. However, speculation is rife in political circles that he will be sworn in on Monday, the day 'Bhaiyya Dooj' festival will be celebrated, as it is considered an auspicious day.

Before he is sworn-in as the chief minister again, Kumar has to tender his resignation to the governor. The newly elected MLAs of the NDA are yet to meet formally and elect Kumar as their leader.

However, with top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, strongly endorsing Kumar as chief minister, there are no doubts over a fourth straight term for him in the high office. Chief Electoral Officer HR Srinivas, meanwhile, submitted the list of winning candidates in the assembly elections to Governor Phagu Chauhan at Raj Bhavan.


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