Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, addressing party workers on Sunday, urged Muslims to end protests over the citizenship law and asserted that he would not tolerate any discrimination or injustice against minorities.
Informally launching his campaign for the Bihar election later this year, Nitish Kumar also declared that the National Democratic Alliance of his Janata Dal United, BJP and other parties would win over 200 of Bihar's 243 assembly seats.
"The atmosphere of uncertainty should end, this country belongs to everyone. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, everyone has equal rights," the Chief Minister said, addressing the rally at the historic Gandhi Maidan in Patna.
He once again said there was no need to have the National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Bihar, given that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had clarified that there was no such plan.
On the National Population Register - which has been opposed by many states as it is seen to be a precursor to the NRC - Mr Kumar said its previous 2010 format should be restored, but the counting of transgender should be retained as it has been introduced for the first time.
Mr Kumar assured his party workers that he would continue as the leader of the NDA in Bihar and clarified on his meetings with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, which fueled speculation that he was in talks to quit the NDA and resume his partnership with the RJD and Congress.
"Some confusion was created about certain meetings but during the assembly session, such meetings take place," the Chief Minister said.
He made it clear that his pitch for the election would be "15 years of my rule versus 15 years under RJD chief Lalu Yadav and his wife Rabari Devi as chief ministers."
The Chief Minister spoke for an hour and 45 minutes and reeled out statistics to back his good governance claim, but even his supporters admitted that the shadow of poll strategist Prashant Kishor was obvious. Mr Kishor was expelled from the party in January after he took on Mr Kumar publicly, two years after he was named the Chief Minister's number two in the JDU.
In a tweet on Monday, Mr Kishor questioned why despite Nitish Kumar's 15 years in power, Bihar today was just where it was in 2005 when he took over.
The turnout in the JDU workers' conference once again proved that when it comes to organising crowds, Bihar's ruling party is still not able to marshal resources. Mr Kumar, appearing dismayed by the poor attendance visible from the largely empty Gandhi Maidan, said: "Next time, please put up tents so that workers don't leave due to heat," he urged.