Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushil Modi on Wednesday reiterated that Nitish Kumar will remain the chief minister of Bihar as per the party’s commitment, a day after the ruling National Democratic Alliance emerged victorious in the Assembly elections, NDTV reported.
After a neck-and-neck battle that saw the National Democratic Alliance always in the lead no matter how slim the margin, the BJP-Janata Dal (United) combine won 125 seats to pave the way for a fourth successive term for Kumar in office. But the BJP one-upped its ally for the first time in the state by winning 74 seats to become the party with the highest number of votes in the alliance. Kumar, on the other hand, saw his clout diminish as the JD(U)’s numbers came down to 43 from 71 in 2015.
Experts believe that after emerging the dominant partner, the BJP might impact the choice of Bihar’s next chief minister, with some in the party saying that Kumar can no longer call the shots.
But Sushil Modi, who is the current deputy chief minister of the state, dispelled all such notions on Wednesday. “Nitishji will remain chief minister as it was our commitment,” he told NDTV. “There is no confusion on this.”
The BJP leader added that his party and the JD(U) were equal partners. “In election, some win more and some win less,” he said.
The BJP has never ruled Bihar on its own. But with the results giving the saffron party leverage, the balance of power is expected to be different in Kumar’s fourth term, an unidentified party official told the news channel.
A big contributor to the changed equations is Chirag Paswan’s LJP, who damaged the JD(U)’s votebase considerably by fielding candidates against the party. In terms of crude numbers, the Lok Janshakti Party could manage just the solitary seat of Matihani in Begusarai district by a slender margin of 333 votes. But, in terms of vote share, it recorded 5.7%, as compared to 4.8% in the 2015 elections. In 64 of the 137 seats it contested, the LJP came third but received more votes than the margin of victory.