This Article is From Sep 25, 2020

"I Don't Care": Nitish Kumar On Chirag Paswan's State Of Play In Bihar

Chirag Paswan's party had also threatened to field candidates against Nitish Kumar's party in the assembly election

Bihar election: Nitish Kumar said "anyone who is with BJP is also with me"


Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has indicated he would take a wait-and-watch approach to possible realignment moves by any ally for the election to the assembly next month amid the coronavirus crisis.

At an event today, the Janata Dal United chief said he "doesn't care" what alliance partner Chirag Paswan, who heads the Lok Janshakti Party, has been doing behind his back.

"I don't care what people say. I focus on my programmes," Nitish Kumar told reporters today. "We want that all constituents of the NDA fight the election together and win," he said.

Chirag Paswan had been asking the Election Commission to defer polling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a demand that rhymes with what the opposition had been demanding. Chirag Paswan's party had also threatened to field candidates against Nitish Kumar's party in the assembly election.

The son of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan so far remains uncommitted to the alliance for the election battle, though BJP chief JP Nadda has said all the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners in Bihar would fight the election together.

The NDA in Bihar includes Janata Dal United, the BJP, Lok Janshakti Party and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha, which recently switched from the opposition alliance.

Nitish Kumar today said any talks with Chirag Paswan on sharing seats will be handled by the BJP. "Anyone who is with BJP is also with me," Nitish Kumar said, adding the return of Jitan Ram Manjhi to the alliance was also overseen by him but only after taking the BJP in confidence.

Another matter that could involve Nitish Kumar's guidance is Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief Upendra Kushwaha sending feelers that he is angling for a return to the NDA. Nitish Kumar, however, said the matter of Upendra Kushwaha's possible return is a call that has to be taken by the BJP, "not me".

Bihar has to elect a new 243-member assembly by November 29.

The opposition, led by Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav, plans to target the ruling coalition over its handling of the coronavirus crisis and the migrant crisis, besides the floods in the state. The centre's controversial farm bills, passed in parliament despite opposition protests, have also armed Tejashwi Yadav with a campaign pitch to target what he calls an "anti-farmer" government. This morning, he drove a tractor at a protest to drive home the point.