“I wanted Nitish Kumar to not be Chief Minister ever again for which I tried honestly… but we respect the mandate people have given. Had it been in our hands, we would have intervened. But it is a clear mandate given to BJP and JD(U) and they have to take a decision,” he said at a press meet.
“We never concealed our intentions. We believed the JD(U) headed by Kumar needed to be weakened and we succeeded. We wanted to make the BJP stronger and its heft has increased unquestionably,” Paswan said.
The LJP ended with just a single seat, lower than its 2015 tally of two. Its true impact, however, went beyond seat count. The party damaged the JD(U)’s — and, by extension, NDA’s—prospects in around 25 seats, and influenced the course of the contest in around 40 seats overall.
Defending the party against the “vote katwa” (spoiler) epithet used by many, including BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Paswan said, “We wanted to build a stronger organisation in the state, have candidates, and at present we have a presence in all the seats of the Bihar. Our vote percentage has doubled from about 3 per cent earlier to over six now.”
Paswan said his party would continue to be in the NDA at the Centre and ruled out any possibility of joining the Grand Alliance, citing “ideological differences”.
“If anybody deserves to be congratulated on the NDA’s victory in Bihar, it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We wanted to see a government in the state headed by the BJP and supported by the LJP. But we respect the mandate given by the people,” Paswan said. He congratulated the Grand Alliance for putting up a tough fight.