Today, for the first time, Nitish Kumar hinted at retirement
- Nitish Kumar announced at a rally today that this was his last election
- Sources close to him clarified he meant last meeting of this election
- Nitish Kumar known for flips on similar grand declarations, critics said
Nitish Kumar, in a stunning announcement while wrapping up his Bihar campaign, announced at a rally today that this was his last election. Shortly afterwards, sources close to him clarified that he meant the last meeting of this election.
The Bihar Chief Minister was campaigning for a candidate of his Janata Dal United in Purnia when he 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)."
As the comments set fire to retirement speculation, Nitish Kumar's party men denied accusations that he had pulled a desperate stunt for votes.
Nitish Kumar's critics pointed out that he was known for his flips on similar grand declarations in the past.
A clip shared widely on social media had the Chief Minister announcing 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." Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Yadav, Nitish Kumar's contemporary who has been his ally and rival both, tweeted the video with the comment: "Check out his dialogue! Have you seen a man with less morals and principles?"
Not long after that speech in the Bihar assembly, Nitish Kumar had dumped the RJD and the Congress and re-embraced the BJP, the party he had broken up with over Narendra Modi's elevation as prime ministerial candidate in 2013.
Since the last election in 2015, Nitish Kumar has swapped partners and is back in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
But as he aims for a fourth straight term in the polls ending Saturday, Nitish Kumar is facing one of his toughest election battles.
He and his ministers have faced heckling and slogan-shouting during their campaign. Earlier this week, the Chief Minister was attacked with onions.
Many of his statements during the campaign made headlines, but today, for the first time, he hinted at retirement. Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav, the opposition's chief ministerial candidate, has often said of the 69-year-old Chief Minister in this campaign: "Nitish Kumar is mentally and physically tired."
Shivanand Tiwari, an RJD leader, said Nitish Kumar was using the emotional card as a last resort. "He is in the habit of making such emotional statements and then backtracking. I don't take such statements from Nitish Kumar seriously," he said.