Bihar Agriculture Minister and senior BJP leader Prem Kumar on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be “the big face” in the Assembly polls, even though NDA is contesting under the leadership of JD(U) president and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Prem Kumar said: “We can now see big hoardings of the PM and CM together in Patna. It clearly speaks about the PM being a big factor in the elections. The Centre has given Bihar a Rs 1.25-lakh-crore special package. From laying optical fibre in villages to road, bridge, water drinking and sewerage projects, the PM has given Bihar a lot. We have to take it to the people. It would surely boost the BJP and NDA overall.” He added that playing up the PM would also benefit JD(U).
When it was pointed out that the BJP’s central leadership has reiterated that Bihar polls would be fought under Nitish, Prem Kumar said: “It is the party’s decision and we are contesting under Nitish’s leadership. But that said, the PM is obviously the big face in the coming polls.”
Asked who would be the bigger face — the PM or CM — Prem Kumar said: “It is difficult to say. This comparison is not needed as the NDA is working as a unit.”
Moves to assert position
While the BJP does not want to defy or displease Nitish Kumar, it does want to assert its position and play up the Prime Minister in the field more than the Bihar CM. The BJP has been working silently to gain an upper hand over its alliance partner JD(U). The BJP aims to cash in on the Centre's contribution to Bihar under PM Narendra Modi and tactically play down Nitish as the development man.
BJP sources in Delhi said the party had been trying hard to contest an equal number of seats as the JD(U).
“We gave the JD(U) equal number (17) of seats to contest in Lok Sabha polls even though they won just two seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. It will only be fair if the BJP and JD(U) contest equal number of seats. It is also our big chance to draw parity with the JD(U) in the Assembly polls.”
The JD(U), however, has been trying to contest as the senior partner. Party spokesperson K C Tyagi said: “Modi praises Nitish in every public meeting. It shows how important a role the CM will play in the polls. There should not be any debate on the role of PM and CM in the elections.”
Speaking to party workers at the JD(U) office, Nitish targeted the RJD: “Some people engage in tweeting anything without having full information… People had given me the chance to serve. It is the people who will decide if they want me to keep serving them.”