The NDA has got the numbers needed to form the government, BJP leaders have underlined that Nitish Kumar remains their choice as the next Bihar Chief Minister but Nitish himself expressed his “unwillingness” to continue citing the steep slide in JD(U)’s tally, sources told The Indian Express.
Senior BJP leaders, however, persuaded him to continue as CM and gave him an assurance that he had “full independence as before” in running the government, it is learnt.
“The people are paramount,” Nitish Kumar tweeted Wednesday evening. “I am grateful to the people for giving the NDA a majority. I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his continuing support.”
Sources said Nitish was “very upset” at the manner in which Chirag Paswan and his LJP had hurt the JD(U). Said a senior BJP leader: “He was deeply disturbed and very upset that Chirag had spoiled JD(U)’s chances in at least 25-30 seats. We persuaded him to remain the CM even though BJP is now a senior partner in the alliance.”
In the House of 243, the NDA got 125 seats with BJP getting 74, JD (U) 43 and allies VIP and HAM(S) four seats each.
A senior JD(U) leader said that there was a “general impression” in his party that the BJP did “not deal with Chirag Paswan as effectively as it should have during the election campaign.” This leader said that there was also gaps in coordination between BJP and JD(U) workers.
This, he said, could have translated into the defeat of several JD(U) ministers and some sitting MLAs. In fact, leaders said, the LJP factor could be held responsible for the defeat of JD(U) ministers Jay Kumar Singh (Dinara); Shailesh Kumar (Jamalpur); Krishnandan Verma (Jehanabad); Ramsevak Singh (Hathua); Santosh Nirala (Rajpur) and Khursheed Alam (Sikta).
The JD(U)’s tally of 43 this time, down from 71, is its worst performance since the 2005 Assembly polls.
On Tuesday evening, senior Bihar BJP in-charge Bhupender Yadav, Bihar BJP president Dr Sanjay Jaiswal, Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai met Nitish Kumar.
It was presented as a “courtesy” call but many in the JD(U) saw this as the BJP reaching out at a time when the party was down.
The swearing-in of the new government is likely after Diwali.
Meanwhile, BJP sources said it was “only natural” for the party to relook at portfolios in the Cabinet. The party, sources said, might ask for Education and one “heavyweight” portfolio, either Home or Personnel, which has so far been with the JD(U).