Union Minister Giriraj Singh today said he may retire from politics in 2024, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi completes his second term. "I think my political career will come to an end with the completion of the ongoing tenure of Modi," the BJP leader, known for controversial and divisive statements, said. He was responding to questions about becoming a Chief Ministerial candidate in Assembly polls expected next year, even as demand grows from within the BJP to replace JDU chief Nitish Kumar, the current Chief Minister, as the face of the NDA in the state.
"I think I am nearing the end of my political career. I am among those who had entered public life not with the ambition of becoming a legislator, an MP, or acquiring any position of power. I was fired by the nationalistic dream of integration of Kashmir for which our ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee gave up his life," Mr Singh, the Lok Sabha MP from Begusarai, said at a press conference in Patna.
"We are fortunate to have a prime minister like Narendra Modi who, finally, showed the resolve to fulfill the pledge. I feel a sense of accomplishment. Nothing more needs to be achieved," he said, referring to the government's decision to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.
In August, shortly after the government's big move on Jammu and Kashmir, Giriraj Singh, 67, had tweeted in triumph, "Jai Kashmir, Jai Bharat.Abki baar us paar (this time, we will go across)". The parliamentarian drew from the PM Modi's popular election slogan 'Abki baar Modi sarkar'.
Giriraj Singh, a two-time MP first won in 2014 from Bihar's Nawada seat. Expectations he would be allowed to defend that seat this year were dashed after the party fielded him from Begusarai, which is around 110 km away, to take on former student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, who was fielded by the CPI.
Believed to be close to both the Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah, he promptly went into a sulk and refused to campaign.
"My self-respect is hurt that no other MP's seat was changed in Bihar. It was decided without talking to me. State BJP leadership should tell me why it was done... I can't compromise with my self-respect," he was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
Ultimately it took an intervention by Mr Shah, then BJP President, to get him to change his mind. The minister, who was warned to reign in comments while campaigning, won by over 4 lakh votes.
Known to get away with unabashedly polarising public speeches, the minister also made headlines in 2014 for warning critics of the Prime Minister to "go to Pakistan" (something he has said several times since) and in 2016 for appealing to Hindus to have more children so a Ram temple could be built in Aydohya.
Bihar is expected to hold Assembly elections in 2020.
The ruling BJP-JDU alliance, led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has come under pressure with two BJP leaders and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan hinting at a change.
Those comments come despite Mr Kumar, who was dubbed "Sushashan babu" (Mr Good Governance), leading the alliance to victory in 39 of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the April-May national election.
With input from PTI