PATNA: Amid growing chorus as to who will be NDA’s face to take on incumbent chief minister Nitish Kumar in the Bihar assembly polls, Lok Janshakti party president Ramvilas Paswan said on Thursday the decision in this matter lies with senior coalition partner BJP.
“Being the senior coalition partner, it is for the BJP to decide who will be NDA’s chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming Bihar assembly polls. The LJP will support whatever decision the BJP takes on the issue,” Paswan, also the Union food and consumer affairs minister, told reporters.
Asked whether he himself was in the race after his younger brother and LJP state president Pashupati Kumar Paras had recently claimed so, the LJP chief said the BJP, by virtue of being the senior coalition partner, had every right to decide the chief ministerial candidate.
He, however, said that anybody could be NDA’s chief ministerial candidate.
On Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad daring BJP to announce its chief ministerial candidate after Nitish Kumar was declared the secular alliance’s face for the Assembly polls, Paswan said Prasad’s comments did not carry weight anymore.
“Will they (Prasad and Kumar) dictate us to declare our chief ministerial candidate?” Paswan asked.
On the buzz surrounding former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi seeking to forge an alliance with BJP, he said he had no problem if Manjhi joined the NDA.
Stating that he would welcome Manjhi, the bete noire of Kumar, in the NDA fold, Paswan said he never believed in the divide created on the lines of Dalit and Mahadalit by the incumbent chief minister during his first term.
On the secular front formed by RJD, JD(U) and Congress for the Bihar Assembly polls, he said he was sceptical about the success of the alliance as Prasad and his foe-turned-friend Kumar were bound to backstab each other at some stage before the polls or after it.
“The alliance between Lalu and Nitish is akin to coming together of ‘neem’ and ‘karela’ (bitter gourd),” he said.