Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, whose Rashtirya Lok Samata Party is part of the National Democratic Alliance, said on Wednesday that Nitish Kumar had told him that he did not want to continue as the chief minister of Bihar after the state’s 2020 Assembly polls. Kushwaha claimed that Kumar told him that he had reached “a saturation point in power” and was now willing to step down, NDTV reported.
Kumar has been the chief minister of Bihar since 2005, barring a nine-month period when he resigned in the wake of his party’s poor performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Kushwaha, however, stressed that his statement should not be interpreted as demanding the chief minister’s resignation.
“Nitish Kumar doesn’t want to be the next chief minister of Bihar,” he said, according to The Hindu. “He personally told me that how long will he hold on to the post. He wants to quit.” Speaking at an event marking Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s 143rd birth anniversary, Kushwaha added that Kumar was like an elder brother to him and that “nobody knows Kumar from a closer quarter than me”.
However, Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar rubbished Kushwaha’s statement, saying Kumar was chief minister “by virtue of people’s mandate and the legislators’ choice”, the Hindustan Times reported.
Kushwaha’s remarks come at a time when he is reportedly upset with the National Democratic Alliance for not assuring his party of a respectable seat-sharing deal in the 2019 elections. He also asked why his party was not inducted in the Bihar cabinet when the Janata Dal (United) joined the BJP-led alliance in July 2017.
On October 26, BJP President Amit Shah had announced that the saffron party and the Janata Dal (United) would contest an equal number of seats in Bihar in the 2019 General Elections. Shah said the alliance’s other members will get a “respectable seat share” and that the exact break-up will be announced soon. Kushwaha said the seat-sharing arrangement has not been finalised yet.