The Bihar BJP's seniormost leader, Sushil Modi, today condemned Chirag Paswan's move to spurn the leadership of Nitish Kumar for the coming assembly elections. Only Nitish Kumar, he declared, will be the Chief Minister, "whatever may be the outcome in terms of numbers", indicating that the party was not encouraging Mr Paswan's hopes for the state's top job in case of an NDA victory."Whoever is part of NDA has to accept Nitish Kumar's leadership," he added.
After months of targeting the Chief Minister, Chirag Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party had decided to contest solo in the elections on Sunday, citing ideological reasons. Side-stepping the technicality of Mr Kumar's Janata Dal United being a part of the alliance, the LJP had said it would continue the alliance with the BJP and form government together after the elections.
Sushil Modi, who is also Mr Kumar's deputy in the state government, indicated that Paswan Junior could not have taken such a step if his father was around.
"Had Ram Vilas been healthy, this would not have happened. No ifs and buts," Mr Modi said while addressing the media this evening regarding seat share in the coming elections.
Ram Vilas Paswan, 74, recently had a heart surgery and is recuperating in hospital.
The BJP has so far been silent on LJP's move, giving rise to suspicions in Nitish Kumar's camp that they had given their tacit approval. Sources in the party had also questioned the BJP's silence over the last months when Chirag Paswan had attacked the Chief Minister on multiple issues.
Sushil Modi today indicated that the NDA in this election will mean only four parties -- the BJP, the JD(U), Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM and the Vikassheel Insaan Party.
"Only four NDA parties can use PM's photo during campaign. If needed, we will write to the Election Commission that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photo must not be misused," he added.
Nitish Kumar issued a reminder of the contribution of the BJP and his Janata Dal United in Ram Vilas Paswan reaching the Rajya Sabha. Without naming Chirag Paswan, Nitish Kumar said, "However hard you try, there will be a few who will say negative things. I have no interest in what people are saying. Did Ram Vilas Paswan reach the Rajya Sabha without the help of the Janata Dal United and the BJP?"
The NDA, he said, will unitedly work towards the development for Bihar. "There are no misunderstandings... We are working together now and will continue in the future. We will fight the polls together," he added.