Chief minister Nitish Kumar caused a flutter on Tuesday by saying that Bihar would be the “biggest loser” if he did not emerge victorious in the state’s upcoming polls.
“Win or lose, who cares? If I lose, Bihar will be the bigger loser. What do I have to lose?” the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader said at a conclave organised by a leading TV channel in Patna.
As his confidantes gasped in disbelief, a belligerent Kumar tore into suggestions by his rivals that he had compromised the development agenda by teaming up with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad for the polls to be held in five phases from October 12 to November 5.
“If people give us another chance, I will continue to work with the same zest and passion. If people do not, I do not stand to lose anything. It's the people who would lose,” he said.
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Dismissing suggestions that the victory of the RJD-JD(U) alliance would lead to the return of “Jungle Raj” to Bihar, Kumar said such allegations reflected the social bias of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“I never used the word 'Jungle Raj' to describe RJD rule ever. Others might have. If there has been a slide in the law and order situation under a government run with Prasad's support, do point it out,” he said.
Kumar said rule of law topped his agenda, whereas the BJP had “no guts” to take on criminals.
“Leaders of the BJP and RSS have always been considered mediocre. They have no guts to take on criminals and control crime. In fact, they are chicken-hearted,” he said, dismissing a RSS-sponsored report on law and order as a “sham”.
Kumar attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for mentioning a murder case and for calling a RLSP leader – who had threatened to break the chief minister’s rib-cage after the arrest of JD-U legislator Anant Singh – as "a dear friend" at a recent rally.
He called for a debate on crime control figures and accused the BJP of spreading lies. “Crime figures are on the Central government's websites. I am ready for a debate with anyone to dispel the doubts. Take it. There is no Jungle Raj now. There will be none tomorrow,” he said.
Kumar described his grand alliance with the RJD as a tactical move comparable to his partnership with the BJP in the past. “Today, I am evil. When I was with them, I was not. They want to drive a wedge between me and (Lalu) Prasad. That will not happen,” he said.
He praised RJD chief Lalu Prasad for his befitting replies to the BJP and opponents. “There was a time when the BJP dreaded Prasad. Whatever you say against me, I will not retort. Prasad will certainly reply in his own inimitable style,” he said.
Targeting the BJP for not declaring its chief ministerial candidate, Kumar said, “Will Prime Minister Modi be chief minister too? People know, only a Bihari can be chief minister.”
Referring to the NDA’s seat-sharing formula for the Bihar polls, Kumar said it lacked ideological union and was a politically convenient alliance.
Bihar is headed for a tough election contest starting next month as a so-called grand alliance of the JD(U), RJD and the Congress are ready to take on the BJP-led NDA, which has been on a winning spree since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Results will be declared on November 8.
Full covergae: Battle for Bihar