Ahead of vote count, 2 NDA allies drop hints about role in new government
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar believes the NDA is going to get a second term when votes are counted this week. And this time, the Janata Dal (United) chief, who had switched sides in 2017 to return to the BJP-led national coalition, hinted his party would be part of this government.
Kumar’s party had stayed out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government when he dumped Bihar’s early version of the grand alliance comprising Lalu Yadav’s party and the Congress and teamed up with the BJP again.
It helped that the JD (U) – which had contested the 2014 national elections on its own – had only two lawmakers in the Lok Sabha. The JD (U) had been no match for either Narendra Modi-led BJP’s campaign which had cornered 22 of Bihar’s 40 seats or its other two rivals from the state.
Shortly before he flew down to New Delhi for the dinner hosted by BJP chief Amit Shah, Nitish Kumar spoke about the special package that had once been his party’s key talking point before it was pushed in the deep freezer.
“Whatever may be the outcome of exit poll, we were optimistic of the return of Narendra Modi government,” Kumar said.
“And it is a given that allies will be part of the NDA government,” Kumar said on his party participating in the next government.
Nitish Kumar isn’t the only NDA ally to drop hints about his party’s wish-list.
Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK, which had rejected exit poll predictions that favoured its rival DMK, on Tuesday insisted that the poll projections at a national level “reflected the mindset of Indian people”.
“That they want to give a second term for BJP-led NDA,” said Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, the AIADMK leader who has acknowledged that he patched up with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on the advice of PM Modi.
O Panneerselvam, or OPS as he is popularly known, told reporters that the AIADMK would decide on joining the NDA government predicted by exit polls only after the votes are counted.
“While the results are coming out on May 23, we have a party meeting in our office to decide about joining the NDA cabinet if the BJP-led alliance gets to rule a second term,” he told reporters before leaving for Delhi for the NDA meet.