Putting an end to speculation about strife between the two ruling coalition partners – BJP and JD(U) – Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said Nitish Kumar will be the next chief minister of Bihar. Shah’s statement comes just before Bihar’s first phase of Assembly polls.
In an exclusive interview with Editor-in-chief Rahul Joshi, Shah said there was a Modi wave in the country as well as in Bihar and that it would help both alliance partners equally.
Shah’s comments come at a time when NDA’s partner at the Centre – Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), not part of its Bihar alliance — has virtually declared a war against Kumar’s JD(U) by deciding to field its candidates against it, although both parties have tried to steer clear of the controversy.
“Naturally, the Modi wave in Bihar will help not just us but JD(U) as well. JD(U) being our alliance partner…the number of seats that Modi factor will help BJP win, the same number of seats Modi factor will help JD(U) win also,” he said. “The BJP and JD(U) are fighting almost the same number of seats…But I can tell you with confidence that the next chief minister of Bihar will be Nitish Kumar.”
Shah said he took feedback from various party functionaries who had recently been to Bihar and what he has learned is that the foodgrain supplied by the Prime Minister’s scheme during the Covid-19 period and the money transferred to the people of Bihar during these trying times left a lasting impression in the minds of the people.
Shah said the manner in which Kumar had helped migrant labourers returning to Bihar, by arranging their food and lodgings and providing them with financial assistance, the question of a possible anger within the people regarding the alleged mishandling of the Covid crisis did not arise.
“I have taken feedback from people who have been to both rural and urban parts of the state. The foodgrain distributed in the state from March till Chhath festival, not a single paisa was taken from anyone. The people of Bihar will never forget how Nitish Kumar arranged for their stay, paid for their travel, extended Rs 1,000 per person financial assistance to the migrant labourers,” he said.
Considering the lack of healthcare facilities in Bihar at one point, Shah said it was commendable the way in which the recovery rate has climbed up to nearly 96%, among the highest in the country.
“Given the way that the Centre and the state dealt with this situation, the financial assistance of Rs 6,000 to farmers, for instance, the people of Bihar have seen a humane, sensitive side of the state and central government. The various financial and other kinds of help have been the lifeline of many Biharis during these tough times. I don’t think the people of Bihar will ever forget that,” Shah said.