Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has clarified his recent "last election" remark, saying he is not retiring in the near future and that his comment was misinterpreted.
"I did not talk about retirement...I always say the same thing at the last rally in every election that ''ant bhala to sab bhala'' (all is well that ends well). If you listen to the speech back and forth, everything will be clear," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Mr Kumar, while campaigning for a Janata Dal United candidate in Bihar's Purnia earlier this month, said: "This is the last day of election. The day after this election will end and this is my last election. Ant bhala to sab bhala (All's well that ends well)."
Mr Kumar's ally-turned-rival, the Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD, had responded to the announcement with scepticism. The party shared an old clip of the Chief Minister in which he announces to the BJP, "Rahein ya mitti mein mil jayenge, aap logon ke saath koi samjhauta nahin hoga (whether I survive or not, a partnership with you is out of the question). That chapter is closed".
Not long after making that speech, Mr Kumar, in 2017, dumped Lalu Yadav's party and joined the National Democratic Alliance.
"Check out his dialogue! Have you seen a man with less morals and principles?" Mr Yadav tweeted earlier this month, in response to Mr Kumar's remark that many critics said was an election gimmick.
Nitish Kumar's shift in loyalty, meanwhile, hasn't paid off. In the Bihar assembly election, he conceded the status of senior partner in the alliance to BJP, as his party could win only 43 seats against 74 won by the JP Nadda-led outfit.
The RJD, led by 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav in his father's absence, emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats.
On Thursday, Mr Kumar said that the decision on who will be the next Chief Minister will be taken by the NDA, indicating the matter will be revisited despite the BJP's earlier assurances that he would retain the post.