Nitish Kumar will stand "with hands folded and head bowed" before Tejashwi Yadav, the opposition alliance's chief ministerial candidate, once Bihar election results are declared on November 10, the LJP's Chirag Paswan said Thursday, hitting out at the Chief Minister over his "greed for power".
"The same Prime Minister whom you (Nitish Kumar) were never tired of arguing with or criticising... today you are happy to share a stage with him and bow before him as he asks for votes for you? This shows your greed for power and the chief minister's post. After November 10 you will be bowing before Tejashwi Yadav," Chirag Paswan was quoted by news agency ANI.
Mr Paswan was referring to ideological contradictions between Nitish Kumar and the BJP at the centre on matters such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the Article 370.
"This lust for power is not going to leave him... So, what we may witness, after the results are out, is Nitish Kumar standing before Tejashwi Yadav, just like he is doing now before PM Modi. If needs be, he will go to Ranchi and seek blessings of Lalu Yadav with bowed head and folded hands," Mr Paswan was quoted by news agency PTI.
The comments come as the opposition sharpens its claws ahead of the third and final phase of polling, which is scheduled for Saturday. Results for the three-phase election are due Tuesday.
This is not the first time Mr Paswan has claimed Mr Kumar could break ties with the BJP and re-ally with the RJD - three years after ditching them to re-join the BJP and NDA - to remain in power.
On October 28, as Bihar voted in the first phase, he tweeted: "He (Nitish Kumar) has done preparations to leave the BJP and go with the RJD after the elections."
Today Mr Paswan also criticised the Chief Minister for his "weakness" and failure to ensure development for Bihar, despite holding power for 15 years and ruling with the centre as an ally - a comment seen as a reference to the "double engine government" model touted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his campaign speeches as an assured gateway to growth for the state.
"You are the weakest Chief Minister. You can't any work done on your own... cannot ensure development in the state. Only have excuses that this the centre will see or this someone else will see... if everyone else will do the work then what are you in that chair for?" Mr Paswan asked.
The LJP chief, who criticised Nitish Kumar for seeking votes based on work done by the BJP and not his party, broke ranks with the ruling JDU-BJP alliance ahead of this election and is contesting the polls independently.
Mr Paswan - who has targeted Nitish Kumar to a point that cracks in the Chief Minister's already fragile relationship with the BJP have begun to widen - insists his party remains a member of the BJP-led NDA at the centre.
Chirag Paswan, who has made no secret of his chief ministerial ambition, is hoping his tactics net the LJP enough seats to emerge as an alternative route to power for the BJP as it looks to retain power in Bihar, where Nitish Kumar faces a strong anti-incumbency wave after 15 years in charge.
On Tuesday, after casting his vote in the second phase of polling, Mr Paswan said he "could give (it) in writing" that Nitish Kumar will never again be Chief Minister. The LJP chief played down his role in government formation, claiming that his only interest was "Bihar first, Bihari first" - a reference to his party's manifesto for this election.
"You can get me to give you in writing that Nitish Kumar will never again be the Chief Minister after November 10. I will have no role to play, I want 'Bihar first, Bihari first'..." he told ANI.
The JDU reacted with disdain, with state minister Neeraj Kumar tweeting that Mr Paswan's remarks were born out of a lack of political options in the current scenario.
With input from ANI, PTI