Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bihar chief Sanjay Jaiswal on Tuesday evening dismissed speculations about the saffron party snubbing Nitish Kumar as ally Janata Dal (United) failed to put up a good show in the Assembly elections, reported PTI. The majority mark to form the government is 122 in the 243-seat Bihar Assembly. The saffron party looks set to emerge as the single-largest party in the state, according to the election trends.
As of 4 pm, the National Democratic Alliance was leading in 129 seats, and the Opposition was ahead in 100 seats. Within the NDA, the BJP led in 77 seats and the JD(U) in 47, while the Vikassheel Insan Party was ahead in five, and the Hindustani Awam Morcha in three seats. Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, which made headlines contesting the polls outside the ruling alliance, was ahead only in consituency.
“The issue has been cleared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief JP Nadda much before the elections,” said Jaiswal when asked if Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will lead the government if the NDA secured a majority in the Assembly.
Earlier in the day, state JD(U) chief Vashishtha Narayan Singh had also said that Kumar will lead the government. “I have been saying this for a long time that the NDA will form the government under the leadership of CM Nitish Kumar,” he had said. He added that the prime minister, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Nadda have made it “amply clear” on several occasions as to who will lead the government.
Speculation about the BJP overlooking Kumar for the top state post started doing the rounds after senior party leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said it was “[Narendra] Modi’s image” that saved the day for them. “By evening, we will decide on the issues of government formation and leadership,” he told NDTV. However, later, he clarified that the BJP will “stick to its promise” of Kumar returning as chief minister.
Meanwhile, leaders close to Kumar insisted that “Brand Nitish” was not dented. They, however, acknowledged that the results reflected a strong anti-incumbency factor.
Modi, Shah and Nadda have had said on several occasions during campaigning that Nitish Kumar will lead the government if the NDA returned to power. On the last day of campaign, the prime minister even wrote a letter to the people of Bihar, endorsing Kumar.