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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday accepted the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) challenge of holding fresh assembly polls in Bihar and threw down the gauntlet asking it to hold a simultaneous election in Uttar Pradesh, besides byelection to Lok Sabha seats held by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) members in the two states. Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had on Sunday dared Kumar to hold fresh assembly polls by dissolving Bihar assembly if he has "faith in the development work done by his government". "If you (BJP) have the courage then hold simultaneous polls in UP and Bihar. I don't have any problem. I am ready for it tomorrow if you want it so," Kumar said. "I am ready (for snap polls) but it should be held along with Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
There should be simultaneous assembly polls in UP and Bihar," he told reporters on the sidelines of a programme in Patna. Kumar added that all the NDA and the BJP members should resign from their Lok Sabha seats in UP and Bihar and bypolls be held on those seats in the two states. The BJP, which has completed three years in office at the Centre, had in a landslide victory won the UP assembly polls securing 325 seats but had tasted defeat at the hands of Grand alliance in Bihar in 2015. To a query on presidential polls, Kumar said opposition parties were waiting for the BJP to come out with a consensus candidate and if there was none, then it was the opposition's duty to put up its own candidate. The Centre should take initiative in this regard, Kumar said and added that it will not take much time to decide the candidate of the opposition parties as they have met on many occasions on the issue. On BJP president Amit Shah describing Mahatma Gandhi as a "chatur baniya", he said the comment was not worth one's while. "Mahatma Gandhi is the Father of the Nation. It is up to them (BJP) to decide what kind of image they want to create about themselves by making such a comment. Does it affect Gandhiji," he said. On Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit's "goon on the street" comment on Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, the Chief Minister said he did not have any information about it. "All I can say is that every Indian has very high respect for the Army. The Army chief has the backing of [the] entire nation in discharging his duties," he said.