The Bihar BJP has expelled the eight party rebels who joined Chirag Paswan’s LJP over the past week. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, the BJP’s senior-most leader in the state, also declared that the LJP was not a part of the NDA in Bihar where the first phase of polling is due on October 28.
Modi made it clear that only the BJP, the JD-U, former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM and the VIP of Mukesh Sahni were part of the NDA.
The relationship between Paswan and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has worsened over the past few months, presenting a peculiar situation for the BJP. The LJP has said though it would contest the polls against the JD-U, but will a part of the NDA at the Centre. The LJP will contest 143 seats out of the total 243.
“If we get a majority, Nitish Kumar will be the Chief Minister. There should be no confusion on that front,” Modi said, repeating, that the BJP was solidly behind Nitish Kumar in his bid to become a six-term Chief Minister.
The statement by Modi comes as the BJP moves to reassure Nitish, who had been left upset by the party’s apparent refusal to act against Chirag Paswan and his targeting of the Chief Minister and his ruling JD-U.
The JD-U, meanwhile, reportedly is unconvinced that Chirag Paswan, who has made no secret of his ambition to become chief minister, can get away with so many infractions without the tacit blessing of the BJP leadership.
Modi also reminded NDA workers in the state of what BJP chief JP Nadda said on Sunday. Nadda, in his first campaign speech, praised Nitish Kumar’s governance and worked him into the ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai (if there is Modi, then it is possible)’ slogan that the BJP used ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Nitish Kumar is synonymous with the development of Bihar, all of which has taken place in the 15 years that the NDA has been in power in the state, Modi said.
Elections for the 243-member Bihar Assembly will begin October 28 and be spread over three phases. Results are due November 10.
The JD(U)-BJP alliance has agreed to a 122-121 seat-sharing deal, with the VIP getting 11 seats from the BJP’s share and the HAM getting seven from the JD-U.