Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is serving his fourth term in office, will complete his five-year-tenure and was ”not going anywhere”, senior leaders of his party, the Janata Dal (United), asserted on Friday. More than one top leaders of the JD(U) came out with the clarification a day after the rumour mill had a field day interpreting an off-the-cuff remark by Kumar during an informal interaction with journalists.
The speculations were triggered by Kumar’s reference to the Rajya Sabha being “the only House” he has not been a member of. The chief minister started off as an MLA in the early 1980s, got elected to the Lok Sabha thereafter for a number of terms during which he also served as a Union minister for many years and has been an MLC since becoming the chief minister in 2005.
This was construed as the septuagenarian’s willingness to give up his demanding job for a cushy assignment like the Vice President or the President. Elections to both top posts are due in a few months.
“Oh dear! Respectable Nitish Kumar ji has got the mandate to serve the people of Bihar for five years. This means he is not going anywhere. He is the Chief Minister and will continue in the capacity”, tweeted Upendra Kushwaha, the JD(U)’s parliamentary board chief.
अरे भाई, आदरणीय नेता श्री नीतीश कुमार जी को फिलहाल पांच वर्षों के लिए बिहार की जनता की सेवा का जनादेश प्राप्त है। अर्थात, नीतीश जी कहीं नहीं जाने वाले हैं। मुख्यमंत्री हैं और रहेंगे..!
— Upendra Kushwaha (@UpendraKushJDU) April 1, 2022
Sanjay Kumar Jha, the minister for Information and Public Relations Department who is also a national general secretary of the party, saw the rumour surrounding the CM as a “propaganda” that will “yield little”.
“I’m intrigued at the rumour that Hon CM Shri @NitishKumar is contemplating going to Rajya Sabha! This is mischievous, and far from truth. Shri Kumar has people’s mandate to serve Bihar, and will continue to do so for the full term as Chief Minister. He is not going anywhere!”, Jha tweeted.
I'm intrigued at the rumor that Hon CM Shri @NitishKumar is contemplating going to Rajya Sabha! This is mischievous, and far from truth.
Shri Kumar has people's mandate to serve Bihar, and will continue to do so for the full term as Chief Minister. He is not going anywhere!
— Sanjay Kumar Jha (@SanjayJhaBihar) April 1, 2022
“Shri Nitish Kumar was the face of the NDA in 2020 Bihar Assembly elections, and people voted this alliance to power. His unwavering commitment to serve people & ability to transform #Bihar are sacrosanct. I urge all to desist from such propaganda, which shall yield little”, he said in another tweet.
Jha did not blame anybody in particular for the “propaganda” though the strongly worded statement came a day after a section of the media claimed Kumar was willing to leave and let the BJP, his ally in power, have its own chief minister in Bihar.
Formerly a junior ally of the JD(U), the BJP won many more seats than the former in the 2020 assembly polls, though Kumar returned to yet another term in office in keeping with the assertion by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah that he shall be leading the NDA in the state irrespective of the electoral outcome.
Some poll surveys had claimed that confusion over Kumar’s fate, which had followed the rebellion of Chirag Paswan-led LJP which many thought to have a tacit backing of the BJP, had caused the NDA to take a beating in the initial phase of elections.
The NDA was able to make up, and eventually win a wafer-thin majority only after Modi himself cleared the air at rally after rally.
Nonetheless, leaders of the BJP in the state keep expressing their “personal opinion” that Bihar too needs a “Yogi model” which Kumar could not provide because of fatigue and it was time that the party, which for the first time has the largest number of MLAs in the state, occupied the driving seat.