Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday side-stepped queries on the outcome of assembly polls in Delhi, where the coalition comprising his JD(U), BJP and LJP has been drubbed by the incumbent Aam Aadmi Party, with a terse observation will of the people is supreme.
“Janta malik hai,” said Kumar with hands folded above his head and the ghost of a smile playing on his lips as he sauntered past a posse of journalists tossing queries on the sidelines of a function where he unveiled a statue of RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
The JD(U), of which Kumar is the national president, had contested two assembly segments in Delhi Burari and Sangam VIhar – and is trailing in both by huge margins.
Although the JD(U) has never been a major player in the national capital, the current elections were significant because it was the first time that the BJP a formidable force in Delhi chose to take its smaller allies in Bihar along to take on the huge challenge posed by Arvind Kejriwal’s party, which is less than a decade old.
The tie-up in Delhi had been frowned upon by JD(U) national general secretary Pavan Varma a former diplomat, who aired his differences in the open and faced the axe.
Similar was the fate of Prashant Kishor whom the chief minister had made his party’s national vice-president and whose position in the JD(U) had become increasingly untenable on account of his collaboration with Kejriwal in the capacity of an election strategist.
An indignant Kishor has threatened to visit Patna after the dust settles in Delhi and unveil his future strategy, besides “exposing” Kumar.
The torpid opposition in Bihar, led by Lalu Prasad’s RJD with the Congress as a major ally, is likely to experience a burst of vigour on account of the results in Delhi, despite their dismal performance, which came barely a couple of months after the BJP’s ouster in the adjoining Jharkhand.
However, the development is likely to be received with a sense of relief by the JD(U) as the party will now be even more hopeful that Nitish Kumar’s detractors in the BJP will be kept on a tight leash.
After the Lok Sabha polls last year, several BJP leaders in the state had begun to make statements that time had come for the saffron party to stake claim for the chief minister’s post, thereby threatening to upend the alliance with the JD(U).
A lid was, however, put on the controversy with repeated assertions by Amit Shah, the then BJP chief, that Kumar will lead the NDA charge in the assembly polls.
Nonetheless, JD(U) sources say that a better than expected show in Delhi could have emboldened Nitish-baiters in the BJP and not augured well for the ties between the two parties, re-stitched with tenuous threads in the wake of the recent acrimony that lasted for a four-year period during which the chief minister remained outside the NDA and vowed to make a “Sangh-mukt Bharat”.