Nitish will lead unless BJP brings in different captain: Ram Vilas Paswan
With a proxy battle underway between the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) and its NDA partner, the BJP, in Bihar, the alliance’s third main constituent in the State, the Lok Janshakti Party, asserted that the JD (U) leader would continue as the ‘Captain’ of the alliance till the BJP officially throws its hat into the ring.Speaking to The Hindu, Union Consumer Affairs Minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan said “Nitish Kumar is our Captain and he will continue unless if the BJP decides to bring in a different Captain.”The debate was triggered by BJP legislator Sanjay Paswan’s comment that Mr. Kumar should step down and hand over the reins to the BJP. To this, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Modi, in a tweet, said “Nitish Kumar is the captain of NDA in Bihar and will remain its captain in next assembly elections in 2020 also… when captain is hitting 4 & 6 defeating rivals by the innings, where is the question of any change?” The BJP legislator’s remarks came almost a week after the JD(U) began putting up posters with the slogan “Kyun karein vichar, jab hai hi Nitish Kumar (Why rethink, when we have Nitish Kumar)”.“Till now the BJP has not officially thrown its name in the ring for the CM’s post, then what’s the point of debate,” Mr. Paswan added.When asked about growing disappointment in the State with the government led by Mr. Kumar, Mr. Paswan asserted that the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be able to offset this. “Even if there are a few minus points of Nitish government, one can say the percentage is fairly low. And more importantly there are no minus points with the Narendra Modi government,” Mr. Paswan said.He asserted that an outcome similar to that of the 2015 Assembly polls, when Mr. Kumar joined hands with Lalu Prasad Yadav helping the mahagatbandhan to a clean sweep, would not repeat itself. Contending that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comments raising questions on caste based reservation ahead of the 2015 elections had been the major factor that led to the mahagatbandhan’s victory, Mr. Paswan said the upcoming Assembly elections — scheduled to be held by November 2020 — would be different in many ways. “For one, our oppponents can’t continue to milk votes by creating doubts about Narendra Modi’s commitment towards caste based reservation. Mr. Modi has proved his credentials very clearly in last six years, We will win at least 225 seats this time,” Mr. Paswan added.The Bihar Assembly has 243 members.