Nitish Kumar said on Wednesday that after the 2020 Bihar election, in which his party won fewer seats than the BJP, he agreed to become Chief Minister only because of pressure. He made the startling disclosure while replying to the BJP's allegations of betrayal in his remarks in the Bihar assembly just before a test of strength that he won easily.
"After the 2020 polls, I was ready for a Chief Minister from the BJP since they had more MLAs. But there was serious pressure on me to continue as Chief Minister. They said you become Chief Minister. So, I finally agreed," Nitish Kumar said.
He also rattled off the names of BJP leaders who lost out in the race for Chief Minister - Sushil Kumar Modi and Prem Kumar.
"I was told that Nand Kishore Yadav would be made Speaker. I said he is an old friend... it will be good. But he wasn't."
Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United (JDU) finished third in the Bihar election, ending up as junior partner to the BJP for the first time in their partnership. He returned as Chief Minister but with a vastly diminished stature in the alliance.
Mr Kumar blamed his party's poor performance on estranged ally Chirag Paswan, who put up candidates against the JDU while swearing allegiance to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He suspected that Chirag Paswan's strategy, which cost him precious seats, had the BJP's tacit backing.
"In 2020, who did you pitch against me? But despite everything I didn't carry grudges and I had said I don't want to be Chief Minister. I said you have won more seats, Chief Minister should be from your party. But I took it up under pressure. You know what happened afterwards, the person I had lifted from the lowest ranks to the top – I sent him to the Centre and he betrayed me," he said.
He was apparently referring to RCP Singh, a former aide who is close to the BJP leadership and whom he suspected was plotting against him.
Earlier this month, Mr Kumar ended his alliance with the BJP and formed a new government with the RJD and other parties.
In his assembly speech, he also tackled the BJP's digs about him changing partners and pulling a repeat of 2017, when he had dumped the RJD and reunited with the BJP.
"I broke off from them in 2017. You raised so many charges. But five years later, nothing was found against them," Mr Kumar said.