With BJP whether it goes with Nitish as NDA's face in Bihar or has a change of mind: Chirag Paswan

Kumar Rakesh

New Delhi, Jun 5 (PTI) Hinting at his party's unease with Nitish Kumar, LJP president Chirag Paswan said on Friday he will back the BJP if it opts for a change of face in the Bihar assembly polls as he underscored his dissatisfaction with the chief minister's handling of the migrant crisis, noting it 'could have been better'.

The BJP had declared Kumar, the JD(U) president, as the chief ministerial face of the ruling NDA in Bihar more than a year ago, but a section of leaders within the alliance have been expressing their reservation against his leadership.

In an interview to PTI, Paswan did not make any direct demand about a change of leadership but asserted that he will be with the BJP in whatever decision the saffron party takes.

'Who will be the face, who will be the leader of the alliance is something that its largest constituent BJP has to decide. The LJP is strongly with the BJP in whatever decision it takes. If they (BJP) want to go ahead with Nitish Kumar ji, we are with them, if they want to have a change of mind... whatever decision the BJP takes, we will support,' Paswan said.

His remarks are significant as it was presumed that the issue of the NDA's face in the Bihar polls, which are slated for October-November, had been settled after the then BJP president Amit Shah had declared in 2019 that Kumar will lead the alliance in the next assembly elections.

Shah's announcement had come as he was working to iron out differences among the NDA partners for the Lok Sabha elections in the state.

Asked about the Bihar government's handling of the migrant crisis triggered by the nationwide lockdown to curb COVID-19, Paswan, the Lok Sabha MP from Jamui, said it could have been better.

'If Bihar government had begun transporting migrants earlier, then we could have avoided the example of the likes of Jyoti Kumar. Deaths of many labourers on their way to home could have been probably avoided too,' he said and also praised the Yogi Adityanath government of Uttar Pradesh in this regard.

Teenaged girl Jyoti Kumari shot into limelight after cycling over 1100 km from Gurgaon to Darbangha while carrying her father on pillion.

The LJP president acknowledged that there is anger among lakhs of migrants, who have returned to Bihar from different parts of the country.

Paswan, however, asserted that the NDA will come back to power in Bihar with a huge mandate, and said the RJD-led opposition is not in a position to challenge it.

It will win more than 225 of 242 seats in the assembly, he claimed, noting that it had also won 39 of the state's 40 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.

The BJP, the JD(U) and the LJP are part of the NDA in the state and will be challenged by the alliance of the RJD and the Congress besides some smaller parties in the assembly polls. PTI KR ZMN