Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan on Thursday said it was “beyond his understanding” why Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was still suspicious of a secret political arrangement between him and the Bharatiya Janata Party, when saffron leaders reiterate every day they had nothing to with him.
In an interview with NDTV, Paswan mocked Kumar and said that perhaps an assurance from United States President Donald Trump would “satisfy” the Janata Dal (United) leader and rid him of his inhibitions.
“I don’t think he [Kumar] will be satisfied even if the prime minister [Narendra Modi] says so,” he said, dismissing speculation about BJP backing his rebellion. “After the PM, he would like to hear from the president – the presidents of other nations – and then the American President Donald Trump for his satisfaction that they have nothing to do with Chirag”.
Paswan pointed to the repeated statements made by BJP leaders that Nitish Kumar is the face of the campaign and that their National Democratic Alliance had nothing to do with parties that do not accept his leadership. “It is beyond my understanding that when BJP leaders prove daily that they have nothing to with Chirag, still the chief minister is not satisfied,” he told the channel.
When asked whether he thought Kumar’s suspicions have deepened because of Modi’s silence on the issue, Paswan said: “I think Nitish Kumar was eagerly waiting for the prime minister as he wanted to know what he will say here [in Bihar].”
Modi has held six rallies so far in the state. On Wednesday, the prime minister had hinted that the Lok Janshakti Party was not a part of the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar, although he did not categorically state it.
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The Bihar Assembly elections kickstarted on Wednesday with 71 seats going to polls in the first phase. The next two phases will be held on November 3 and 7, with the results slated to be declared on November 10.
On October 4, the Lok Janshakti Party announced it would not contest the elections with Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), citing “ideological differences”. However, the party decided to stay as an ally of the BJP at the national level and even support the saffron party’s MLAs during the state elections.
Paswan’s LJP is a member of the NDA at the Centre and his father Ram Vilas Paswan was a Union Minister till his death on October 8.
Paswan has made concerted efforts to target the JD(U) by putting up candidates against it, and choosing to not contest on seats where the BJP is in the fray. Of the 138 seats the Lok Janshakti Party is contesting, Paswan has pitted candidates against the Janata Dal (United) in 122 of them.
Since then, speculations have been rife on the political equations in the poll-bound state.
The BJP, however, has been emphasising that Kumar will become the chief minister if the alliance is voted to power, irrespective of individual tallies of the parties. Earlier this month, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and the saffron party’s leader Sushil Modi had described Paswan’s party as “vote katuwa”, a term often used in election parlance for parties that do not necessarily win seats but manage to split voters. He had also insisted that his party has no “secret deal” with the Lok Janshakti Party and that the Chirag Paswan-led outfit is not a part of the National Democratic Alliance in the state.