In a snub to ascendant ally BJP, JD(U) parliamentary board chief Upendra Kushwaha on Saturday asserted that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will be the face of NDA in Bihar for as long as the coalition remained a potent force in the state.
Dismissing speculations of a realignment with the opposition RJD, Kushwaha, however, admitted that the two parties had similar ideologies but the failure of Lalu Prasad's party to put principles into practice had led the JD(U) to align with the BJP with which it did not share a worldview.
Nitish Kumar is NDA and NDA is Nitish Kumar in Bihar. He has been leading the coalition since it came into being in the state. He will continue to do so as long as the NDA exists here, Kushwaha told reporters.
He was replying to queries on the recent statement by union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who had sought to iron out differences with JD(U) during his recent visit to Patna by asserting that Kumar will complete his current term.
It does not matter what any BJP leader says. Nobody should have any delusions (galatfahmi). Be it 2024 or 2025, Nitish Kumar will be there as the leader of the NDA, said Kushwaha, who remains in news for nettling the dominant ally.
The former union minister, who had once rebelled against Kumar but returned to JD(U) last year merging his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, also advised BJP leaders not to create any confusion in the minds of the workers by raising questions like who will succeed Kumar, now on the wrong side of 70 and serving his fourth consecutive term in office.
Kushwaha was also asked about the developments in Maharashtra, where BJP is back in power by lending support to a rebel faction of the Shiv Sena, and the possibility of a similar upheaval in Bihar where RJD has been giving out mixed signals with a softening of stance towards JD(U) in recent times.
The situation in Maharashtra is entirely different from what exists in Bihar. In that state, it seems to be an attempt at reconciliation between two parties which are ideologically similar as far as their commitment to Hindutva is concerned. In Bihar BJP has no ideological peer. We have been allies despite having no ideological common ground, he said.
He also said that speculation on the possibility of realignment between JD(U) and RJD, which split up in 2017, often arose out of the fact that We are ideologically similar as far as principles are concerned.
But JD(U) puts into practice the principles it believes in. The RJD expresses belief in noble principles. But when it comes to practice, we need not say much. The people of Bihar know about them, Kushwaha said in an oblique reference to the opposition party's notoriety for strong arm tactics and allegations of corruption and nepotism.
No BJP leader has immediately come out with a riposte to Kushwaha's remarks.