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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday dismissed suggestions that the recent drubbing of the BJP in Rajasthan bypolls was a cause for "alarm" and expressed confidence that the NDA will emerge successful in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Kumar recalled how in Bihar the JD(U)-BJP combine had fared badly in a bypoll prior to the 2009 parliamentary elections and scored massive victories in both the general elections in the state that year and the 2010 Assembly polls. "We must be careful while evaluating a political situation through bypoll outcomes. In Bihar, the JD(U)-BJP combine had won 32 out of 40 seats in 2009 Lok Sabha polls. In the Assembly poll the following year, we won more than 200 seats in a House of 243.
Though the bypoll held in Bihar prior to that had presented a different picture for us," Kumar told reporters. The JD(U) national president, who returned to the NDA fold last year, said he had predicted that BJP will retain Gujarat and it did happen though many scoffed at the prediction initially. "I am hopeful that the BJP-led alliance will emerge successful in the Lok Sabha poll in 2019," he said. The Congress recently wrested Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha seats and Mandalgarh Assembly seat from the BJP by impressive margins, a development many felt showed the ruling party was on a sticky wicket in Rajasthan ahead of the Assembly elections later this year. Kumar was interacting with journalists after his weekly "Lok Samvad" (public interaction) programme. The JD(U) chief, however, declined to comment on the reported rumblings in the NDA in Bihar where allies like RLSP chief and Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha and Hindustani Awam Morcha founder Jitan Ram Manjhi have been dropping hints about disgruntlement. Kushwaha, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, had recently organized a human chain in support of educational reforms where leaders of the JD(U) and the BJP were absent though senior RJD leaders joined the event and attacked the NDA government in Bihar over deterioration in the education sector. Manjhi, a former chief minister and the only MLA of his party, recently caused a flutter by demanding not less than 50 seats in the next assembly polls in the state. "In a democracy, all people have the freedom to say and do whatever they wish. I do not like to react to such things, Kumar said. He also took potshots at former JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, who was disqualified from the Rajya Sabha after refusing to toe the party line following the split in the Grand Alliance. "They hold Mahapanchayats in solidarity with those who attack my convoy. Just look at the standards they are setting," he said without naming Yadav, who had recently held a meeting in Nandan village of Buxar district where the chief ministers carcade was pelted with stones some time back. "They were always together," was Kumar's cryptic reply when asked about Yadav meeting RJD supremo Lalu Prasad at a jail in Ranchi where the latter is lodged following his conviction in fodder scam cases.