Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has triggered severe dissatisfaction in his JD(U) by settling for just one berth in the Union council of ministers, Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan alleged here on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference in this north Bihar district as part of his state-wide ashirwad yatra, the son of late Ram Vilas Paswan, founder of the LJP, also claimed that Kumar had agreed to part with one seat for his rebellious uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras with the sole aim of belittling Chirag Paswan.
"Can there be a bigger achievement for someone like me, who is a kid in front of him? Whose age is less than the (number of years in) Nitish Kumar's political career, the Jamui MP remarked wryly?"
Notably, Chirag had opened a front against Kumar ahead of the assembly elections last year when he claimed that people of the state were yearning for a change in leadership.
He went all out against the JD(U), fielding candidates against it, though he remained loyal towards the BJP which had, paradoxically, chosen to stay by the side of Kumar.
Nonetheless, the young leader's politics of brinkmanship hit the JD(U) hard and it finished with a dismal tally of under 45 seats, conceding the upper hand in the NDA to the BJP.
Kumar retained the Chief Minister's seat though relations between the JD(U) and LJP continued to sour. The lone LJP MLA Raj Kumar Singh was upbraided for supporting JD (U)s Maheshwar Hazari when the latter got elected as the Deputy Speaker. Singh subsequently joined the JD(U).
Recently, when Paras along with four other MPs, including Chirags first cousin Prince Raj, staged a political coup, the cornered LJP national president charged Kumar and the JD(U) with having fomented trouble.
Chirag maintained many leaders in the JD(U) have felt slighted. Nitish Kumar had been insistent on his own quota and he gave it up all just to insult me. His party will come apart soon.
Incidentally, Kumar had refused to let his party join the central cabinet in 2019 when the BJP made the offer of a token representation of just one cabinet berth to all alliance partners. With 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha, the JD(U) is at present the largest ally of the saffron party.
On Wednesday, JD(U) national president RCP Singh became the sole leader of the party to be inducted into the national cabinet.
Chirag also reiterated the state is heading for mid-term polls. The unity which we see in the so-called NDA is illusory. Nitish Kumar is really upset over his party having been reduced to the third position in terms of a number of seats. His past record shows that he can change tack and let his government fall whenever it suits him.
"How else can we explain the fact that the Chief Minister spends more time at his party office than his own office? And why else has he got down to consolidating the Luv-Kush (Kurmi-Koeri) base with a vengeance," Chirag asked.
He was also queried about the possibility of an alignment with the RJD, the main opposition party which also has the largest number of MLAs. The RJDs de facto leader has, significantly, said that he sympathized with Chirag who must quit the NDA and join those who believe in Ambedkar's Constitution.
"At this moment, I cannot say anything about an alliance. These things are decided at the time of election. We would reach the stage once this government falls, Chirag remarked cryptically."
Replying to a query about his getting short shrift from Prime Minister Narendra Modi whom he has been likening to Lord Rama while calling himself Hanuman, Chirag said "I did what a devotee was supposed to do. I am no longer left with the standing to question what Ram did or did not do for me."
The LJP leader, who has been trying to mend fences with his late father's family from the first marriage, said he will soon be visiting his native village in Khagaria district to seek the blessings of Badi ma (his stepmother and Paswan's first wife).
"I was touched by the love I got from didi (sister) and jijaji (brother-in-law) at a time when my uncle and brother betrayed me," said Chirag referring to his visit to the house of stepsister Asha Paswan, married to RJD leader Arun Sadhu.