Senior BJP leader and former Union minister Sanjay Paswan on Monday said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar “should now move to the Centre” and leave Bihar to “BJP and the second-rung JD(U) leadership”. Paswan said BJP had been “upset” at the JD(U) not “getting support from alliance partner JD(U) on NRC”.
A former president of the BJP SC Morcha and currently an MLC, Paswan told The Indian Express, “Nitish Kumar has now been the Chief Minister of Bihar for over 13 years and there should be a change now even if it is a change for the sake of change. Nitish Kumar has done very well as Chief Minister but should now move to Centre and leave Bihar to BJP and second-rung JD(U) leadership.”
Asked about the immediate provocation for his statement, Paswan said, “The way our alliance partner JD(U) is not supporting us on NRC is not good. We hold there should be NRC in Bihar as well. JD(U) had been also criticising on us NRC in a veiled manner. While we are refraining from any direct criticism of JD(U), we are not too happy with what some JD(U) leaders are saying on NRC.”
Paswan had been indirectly referring to JD(U) national vice-president Prashant Kishor’s criticism of NRC on Twitter.
Paswan also took on JD (U)’s “posture politics” keeping Nitish at the centrestage of the state politics. “We do not know where these posters are coming from. There has not been any NDA meeting and Assembly election is some time away. It looks to be the JD(U)’s sole decision to play up Nitish Kumar’s leadership again… I personally think that Nitish Kumar should now take to the Centre and consolidate the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Let there be a change now.”
Asked about BJP leader and deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi recently reiterating that the NDA will fight the 2020 polls under Nitish Kumar’s leadership, Paswan said, “What I am saying is my personal opinion.”
JD (U) national spokesperson K C Tyagi told The Indian Express, “We wonder why some BJP leaders are making such statements. The top leadership of BJP should rein in the likes of Paswan. We do not criticise BJP top leadership and they should also respect our leader in the best spirit of coalition. We differ on some issues and it is well-known. They have their constituencies to cater to and we have our own. But when Prime Minister Modi keeps praising Nitish Kumar’s leadership, why do such leaders like Paswan speak up.”
Tyagi said BJP should remember that the JD (U) had supported them in Rajya Sabha on over a dozen issues.