Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan separated from the NDA just before the Bihar Assembly elections over his differences with JD (U) president and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Since then, he has left no stone unturned to harm the chief minister’s prospects of returning to power.
On Thursday (November 5), Paswan ticked off Nitish Kumar again saying, “He (Nitish) will bow before Tejashwi Yadav, the opposition alliance’s chief ministerial candidate, once Bihar election results are declared on November 10.”
Instead of asking people to come to him & talk about their problems, he (CM) instigated them & said 'pheko pheko aur pheko.' I don't appreciate the way he reacted: LJP President Chirag Paswan on onions pelted during CM Nitish Kumar's election rally in Harlakhi on 3 Nov. #Bihar pic.twitter.com/TPboWetl3g
— ANI (@ANI) November 5, 2020
“The same Prime Minister whom you (Nitish Kumar) were never tired of arguing with or criticising… today you are happy to share a stage with him and bow before him as he asks for votes for you? This shows your greed for power and the chief minister’s post. After November 10, you will be bowing before Tejashwi Yadav,” Chirag Paswan was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
The comments came ahead of the third and final phase of polling, which is scheduled for Saturday (November 7). Results of the three-phase election are due on Tuesday (November 10).
Chirag Paswan has been doing the balancing act — showing his loyalty towards the Prime Minister and NDA on the one hand and blatantly and ruthlessly attacking BJP’s poll partner Nitish Kumar on the other. In the process, however, he has managed to cause much harm to the BJP-JD (U) alliance as rift becomes apparent in the NDA ahead of the third and final phase.
While speaking at a public rally, Paswan tried to bring out the ideological contradiction in the relationship between Nitish Kumar and the BJP at the Centre. For eg, take the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the Article 370. Initially, Nitish Kumar opposed the CAA before offering his government’s support, but, on Wednesday (November 4), the Bihar CM lashed out at the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on CAA.
In a way, Paswan is trying to turn the BJP against the JD (U). He is trying to suggest that Nitish Kumar will eventually break up with the BJP and go back to Lalu Yadav’s RJD — three years after ditching them to re-join the BJP and the NDA —in order to remain in power.
Paswan also criticized the three-time chief minister for his failure to ensure development for Bihar. “You are the weakest Chief Minister. You can’t get any work done on your own… cannot ensure development in the state. Only have excuses that this the Centre will see or this someone else will see… if everyone else will do the work then what are you in that chair for?” Paswan said.
While on the face of it, the comment was aimed at Nitish, it was also seen as a reference to the “double engine government” model touted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his campaign speeches as an assured gateway to growth for the state.
Chirag Paswan is riding high on a strong anti-incumbency wave against Nitish Kumar after 15 years in charge. The son of Ram Vilas Paswan believes he has a strong chance to claim the CM’s post some time in future, if not immediately. On Tuesday (November 3), after casting his vote, Paswan said, “I could give (it) in writing that Nitish Kumar will never again be Chief Minister.” He, however, played down his role in government formation, claiming that his only interest was “Bihar first, Bihari first”, a reference to his party’s manifesto for this election.