PATNA: Amid an emerging conflict among Bihar’s NDA partners over who would be the alliance’s face in the state in next year’s Lok Sabha polls, the main ruling party JD(U) on Tuesday said NDA will have to seek votes in the state on the basis of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s performance.
JD(U), which considers itself a bigger and stronger party in Bihar than ally BJP, had suggested two days ago that NDA would contest the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 under Kumar’s leadership and seek votes in his name. This had caused heartburns among BJP leaders and triggered speculations about Kumar’s future move.
“While the national election obviously will be fought under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the face of NDA, the alliance will have to seek votes in Bihar on the basis of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s performance,” said JD(U) spokesman Ajay Alok.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the sterling performance of Nitish Kumar as CM will play a decisive role in the coalition’s electoral success in Bihar,” added Alok. His statement, coming ahead of a meeting of Bihar’s NDA coordination committee scheduled for Thursday, was viewed by many as JD(U)’s keenness to retain its role as the “big brother” in NDA in Bihar and consequently get an equal number of seats to contest as BJP, if not more, in the coming LS polls.
“JD(U) has always been a bigger party than BJP in Bihar. BJP used to contest 15 seats in Bihar while JD(U) contested 25. But the situation today is different as NDA has more allies,” said Alok. “Our aim is to ensure NDA wins all the 40 seats in Bihar and Narendra Modi returns as the prime minister,” he added.
Senior BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who had said NDA would get votes because of “PM Modi’s name and Nitish Kumar’s good performance,” sought to end the raging debate on NDA’s electoral face in Bihar.
“He (Nitish Kumar) is the elder brother (in Bihar’s NDA). He is older than me. His party has more seats in the Assembly. He is the CM. There is a long time before the Lok Sabha polls. Seat sharing will be discussed at the right time and there will not be any difficulty,” said Modi.
LJP leader and MP Chirag Paswan, however, said PM Modi would be NDA’s face in the LS polls in Bihar, not Nitish Kumar. Paswan, who is LJP chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s son, also suggested that seat-sharing should be based on a party’s ability to win in different constituencies.