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Nitish evades queries on Delhi poll outcome;rivals say Bihar

Press Trust of India  |  Patna 

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday side-stepped queries on the outcome of assembly polls in Delhi, where the coalition comprising his JD(U),BJP and LJP has been drubbed by the incumbent Aam Aadmi Party, with the terse observation the will of the people is supreme.

"Janata maalik hai", uttered Kumar with hands folded above his head and the ghost of a smile playing on his lips as he sauntered past a posse of journalists tossing queries on the sidelines of a function where he unveiled a statue of Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay.

The JD(U), of which Kumar is the national president, had contested two assembly segments in Delhi Burari and Sangam VIhar and lost both to AAP by staggering margins.

Although the JD(U) has never been a major player in the national capital, the current elections were significant because it was the first time that the BJP a formidable force in the city chose to take its smaller allies in Bihar along to take on the huge challenge posed by Arvind Kejriwals party, which is less than a decade old.

The tie-up in Delhi had been frowned upon by JD(U) national general secretary Pavan Varma a socialite based in the national capital, who aired his differences in the open and faced the axe.

Similar was the fate of Prashant Kishor whom the Chief Minister had made his partys national vice-president and whose position in the JD(U) had become increasingly untenable on account of his collaboration with Kejriwal in capacity of an election strategist.

An indignant Kishor has threatened to visit Patna after the dust settles on Delhi and unveil his future strategy besides "exposing" Kumar.

Kishor rendered his service to Kejriwal's party in drawing strategy for the Delhi election.

Bihar unit of AAP has indicated that the state would be the next destination of the party.

The partys state unit has said it would contest a large number of seats in the assembly elections later this year and seek to "defeat polarization by focusing on issues like health and education".

The torpid opposition in Bihar, led by Lalu Prasads RJD with the Congress as a major ally, after its dismal performance in Lok Sabha polls is hoping for a burst of vigour

among supporters on account of the results in Delhi, which came barely a couple of months after the BJPs ouster in the adjoining Jharkhand.

Tejashwi Yadav, the RJDs Chief Ministerial candidate hailed Kejriwal for defeating NDAs "hate campaign" and took a swipe at Kumar, saying "yes, Janata is maalik. But he will have to face the maalik here when the assembly polls are held".

Yadavs exultation over the "one-sided" poll result, though, was ironic as the massive AAP wave smashed the NDA, besides pulverizing the Congress-RJD combine, which sank without a trace.

However, interestingly, the development is likely to be received with a sense of relief by the JD(U) as well since the party will now be even more hopeful that Nitish Kumars detractors in the BJP will be kept on a tight leash.

After the Lok Sabha polls last year when the BJP returned to power with a brute majority, several BJP leaders in the state had begun to make statements that the time had come for the saffron party to stake claim for the Chief Ministers post,thereby threatening to upend the alliance with the JD(U).

A lid was, however, put on the controversy with repeated assertions by Amit Shah, then the BJP chief and still the de facto party strategist, that Kumar will lead the NDA charge in the assembly polls.

Nonetheless, JD(U) sources say, a better than expected show in Delhi could have emboldened Nitish-baiters in the BJP and not augured well for the ties between the two parties re- stitched with tenuous threads in the wake of recent acrimony that lasted for a four-year period during which Kumar remained outside the NDA and vowed to make a Sangh-Mukt Bharat.

The carefully worded statement issued by the BJPs Bihar unit spokesman Nikhil Anand, who offered his take the Delhi polls outcome, was a straw in the wind.

"The election result of Delhi has reflected the local sentiment of the voters and it has nothing to do with Bihar

"BJP as well as our NDA allies, JDU and LJP are busy strengthening the organisational structure at the root level in Bihar. NDA will sweep the 2020 assembly election in Bihar under the leadership of CM Nitish Kumar", he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 11 2020. 20:26 IST