Nitish Kumar By His Side, Sushil Kumar Modi Eyes 40/40 Bihar Seats In 2019

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi says Nitish Kumar had sensed the mood against the grand alliance among Janata Dal United lawmakers at a meeting on 11 July and divorced Lalu Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal on the Yadav family's refusal to come clean on corruption charges

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Nitish Kumar By His Side, Sushil Kumar Modi Eyes 40/40 Bihar Seats In 2019

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Sushil Modi said he had "complete faith" that Nitish Kumar wouldn't switch sides again (File Photo)

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. In 2014, BJP won 31 out of 40 parliamentary seats in Bihar
  2. Sushil Modi has earlier been Nitish Kumar's deputy and finance minister
  3. Nitish Kumar walked out of NDA alliance in 2013
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's sudden switch from the Mahagathbandhan, or Grand Alliance to the rival National Democratic Alliance has Lalu Yadav going around in circles. In the last 24 hours, Lalu's party Rashtriya Janata Dal has threatened to move the Supreme Court, launch a public campaign and called Nitish Kumar names. But the BJP leader who led the campaign against him and has taken charge as Deputy Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, couldn't care less.

In a conversation with NDTV after beginning his third stint as Nitish Kumar's deputy in the government, Mr Modi brushed aside accusations that his party had manipulated the outcome, claimed that Nitish Kumar had gauged the mood of his legislators about a fortnight earlier and asserted that the NDA would, together with Nitish Kumar's party, sweep the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Bihar.

"We will win 40 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar with the icon of Narendra Modi and development icon of Nitish Kumar (sic)," he told NDTV, careful about balancing the credit - and responsibility - between the two leaders who in the last two elections had bitterly competed to market their models of development. PM Modi's Gujarat versus Nitish Kumar's track record in Bihar.

In 2014, the BJP did manage a stellar performance when it netted 31 of the 40 parliamentary seats. It had won in 172 of the 243 assembly segments. The Congress, the Rashtriya Janata and the Janata Dal United learnt their lesson well and came together to form the grand alliance ahead of the 2015 assembly election. Nitish Kumar was the face of the campaign and projected as the alliance's presumptive chief minister. The grand alliance swept the assembly election with a combined tally of 178.

But could he be sure that Nitish Kumar wouldn't switch sides again? Sushil Kumar Modi - who has twice been Nitish Kumar's deputy and finance minister - said he had "complete faith" that Mr Kumar wouldn't go anywhere again. "I want to assure (the people) that in the remaining 40 months, we will run government together and deliver better governance," he said. Nitish Kumar had stayed in the NDA for 17 years before walking out of the alliance in 2013 over Narendra Modi's projection as the alliance's prime ministerial candidate.

Holding Lalu Yadav's refusal to come clean on the corruption allegations for the grand alliance being in tatters, Mr Modi said the party had surveyed BJP legislators who unanimously supported the party joining the alliance. Claiming that JD U legislators too wanted to join the NDA, Mr Modi said Nitish Kumar had gauged the mood in his party at the meeting of lawmakers on 11 July. Each and every MLA wanted this alliance, he added.

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