The Bihar election saga is unfolding and may continue to do so till late in the evening, but the trend so far suggests LJP’s Chirag Paswan has reasons to smile as Nitish Kumar’s JDU is relegated to the third place.
Had Chirag Paswan not opposed Nitish Kumar so whole-heartedly, the 69-year-old JDU leader’s path towards becoming the Bihar CM for the fourth time would have looked much simpler and easier.
If Nitish Kumar wins elections by mistake, Bihar will be ruined: Chirag Paswan
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) October 21, 2020
So far, BJP looks likely to emerge as the single largest party in the state, followed by RJD and Nitish Kumar’s party in the third place, a humiliation which could have been easily avoided had the NDA stayed together.
An NDTV analysis shows that Nitish Kumar’s could have been the single-largest party if its every candidate had not had to contend with an opponent from Chirag Paswan’s LJP.
“The BJP seems to have achieved its goal of reducing Nitish Kumar to junior partner – which was the goal of the Chirag Paswan move,” said Pavan Varma, who was a close aide of Nitish Kumar till he was expelled from their party 10 months ago.
Political experts have repeatedly blamed the BJP for using Chirag Paswan as a proxy to eat into the turf of Nitish Kumar. For the first time, BJP gets to get even with Nitish Kumar, who has not always shared a very healthy friendship with BJP leaders, especially Modi. During the Lok Sabha elections of 2009, Nitish Kumar had openly refused to entertain Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, in Bihar for campaigning.
In 2010, Nitish Kumar famously cancelled a dinner in Patna to avoid mingling with Narendra Modi. If Modi gains an upper hand in Bihar this time, and fulfills his pre-poll promise, Nitish will be under the complete influence of the Prime Minister, which the JDU leader may not like.
“We will decide by this evening on leadership and government formation,” said Kailash Vijayvargiya of the BJP to NDTV this morning. If that seemed like a loaded comment, implying that Nitish Kumar may not in fact be chosen as the Chief Minister of the alliance if indeed it presents as the winner, the BJP leader added some confusing fine print. “Nitish Kumar will be the Chief Minister, that was our poll promise,” he said.
It is no secret that Chirag Paswan — the thorn in the flesh for Nitish throughout the campaigning — has the tacit support of the BJP and PM Modi. Publicly, neither the PM nor any senior BJP leader ever chided Chirag for his constant barbs at Nitish Kumar. In return, Chirag declared himself the ‘Hanuman” of Modi and made sure his mission to cause maximum harm to Nitish stays on course.
Covid precautions will delay the results and we will know the final outcome only by tonight. It is too early to say who wins, but current trends make it amply clear that win or lose, Nitish is not going to have a field day!