Patna: The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan is likely to find his return to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) very tough after the Bihar assembly elections, with the Janata Dal (United) categorically ruling it out.
“After all those statements by him (against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar), how will you expect him to be (back in) in the NDA fold,” JD(U) working president Ashok Choudhary, a close aide of CM Nitish Kumar, told ThePrint in an interview.
This comes days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah had hinted in an interview to News18 that the NDA hasn’t closed its doors on the late Ram Vilas Paswan’s son yet. “We will see what the situation is after the elections,” Shah had said in response to a query about the possibility of Chirag Paswan returning to the NDA fold.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah have also refrained from directly attacking Chirag Paswan, despite the latter’s campaign for a ‘Nitish-free’ Bihar, which threatens to sabotage the electoral prospects of many JD(U) candidates in this election.
Given that the BJP can’t afford to upset Nitish Kumar if he gets a renewed mandate on 10 November, the JD(U)’s stand against Chirag’s return to the NDA post-polls could put the BJP in a quandary.
Ashok Choudhary, also Bihar’s building construction minister, however, sought to dismiss suggestions of a rift between the JD(U) and the BJP over Chirag who calls himself PM Modi’s Hanuman. “I don’t think he will damage much. Chirag wanted to be part of the NDA but didn’t get what he wanted in terms of number of seats…. It’s not that he is contesting only on JD(U) seats. He has put up candidates on BJP seats, too,” said Choudhary.
The JD(U) also made light of the LJP leader’s diatribe against Nitish Kumar, including on the latter’s integrity.
“He is saying things about Nitish Kumar but what happened in the Lok Sabha polls? Then you wanted Nitishji to come for your campaign; he did go,” Choudhary said. “What did you say about Bihar and Nitishji in Delhi election? So, what happened six months later? By calling himself the PM’s ‘Hanuman’, he is trying to extract pro-Modi votes and by attacking the CM, he wants to get anti-Nitish votes. He is trying to create space (for himself) in Bihar politics. But is that going to happen? That’s a million dollar question.”
The Nitish vs Lalu-Rabri records
The Nitish Kumar government ensured six lakh jobs in 15 years whereas only 95,000 people had got jobs for the same period during the Lalu Yadav-Rabri Devi regime, the JD(U) working president told ThePrint.
This is the JD(U)’s counter to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav’s promise of 10 lakh government jobs, which has created a buzz in the Bihar poll campaign.
Tejashwi has been drawing very impressive crowds, especially of youngsters, in his poll campaign, which has been attributed to his job promise. He has been repeating in his campaign that he will provide these jobs in his very first Cabinet meeting after coming to power.
Tejashwi is just trying to create a narrative, Choudhary said. “From where will he get that money (for 10 lakh government jobs)? You will need Rs 50,000 crore (per annum) for this!” he added. “When they (RJD government in 2005) left, the state budget was Rs 24,000 crore, which has gone up to Rs 2.11 lakh crore now. Tejashwi is just making a (poll) promise.”
Choudhary rebutted suggestions about the Nitish Kumar government not creating jobs. “In the last 15 years, we have given six lakh jobs. No country and no government can give government jobs to everyone who is eligible,” he said. “During Lalu regime, they gave 95,000 jobs in 15 years in Bihar, which included Jharkhand for 10 years (1990-2000).”
Tejashwi has said that he will immediately fill up the 4.5 lakh vacant positions in the state government and provide additional 5.5 lakh jobs in medicine, education, engineering and police services.
The JD(U) working president, however, questioned the opposition leader’s claims. “He says 4.5 lakh government jobs are vacant; it’s not true. Around one lakh jobs are vacant out of which we have already advertised more than 75,000,” Choudhary said.
He also dismissed talks of anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar, who has been the chief minister of Bihar since 2005, except for a nine-month-long interregnum in 2014-15. “Opposition parties are creating a perception about anti-incumbency but Nitishji has delivered in the last 15 years as far as basic infrastructure, health and education are concerned,” he said. “Even in the agriculture sector, we have doubled the productivity of wheat and rice…. People can see what Bihar was earlier. There were 118 massacres, caste wars, in the state (during Lalu-Rabri Devi regime); in the last 15 years, you can see how things have changed.”