Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi on Wednesday said in no uncertain terms that Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar will remain the National Democratic Alliance’s chief minister. This is seen as the NDA’s attempt to send a clear message to Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan for going it solo in the upcoming Assembly elections, which has left both the JD(U) and the BJP rattled. In a stern warning, without naming any BJP rebels who have switched allegiance to the LJP, Fadnavis said anyone contesting elections from Paswan’s party could be expelled if not back within the BJP. More than six BJP rebels were pinning their hopes on contesting on the LJP ticket.
This would lead to a big loss of face for the BJP which is eager to mend ties with state’s five-time Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. On speculation of BJP’s tacit support to Paswan fuelled by media reports, the party appeared to be clear on its stance of contesting elections with the Bihar Chief Minister. The party contradicted LJP president’s claim of BJP-LJP alliance after the election.
At a press conference in the evening, multiple leaders of the BJP including party chief Sanjay Jaiswal and Sushil Modi insisted that Nitish Kumar would remain the Chief Minister for the NDA, and squelched any Chirag Paswan talk.
The two leaders made it clear that anyone contesting elections from NDA will have to accept the leadership of Nitish Kumar and any non-NDA candidate seen seeking votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to face strict action including police cases. Jaiswal even threatened to file an FIR against the Lok Janshakti Party candidates if they used pictures of PM Modi during the campaign.
Sushil Modi said Chirag Paswan could not have taken such a step if his father, Ram Vilas Paswan, was around. Paswan Senior, the Cabinet Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, has recently undergone heart surgery and is recovering in hospital.