Bihar: Modi praises Nitish Kumar's governance; says it must continue
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday praised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for "good governance" in the state. Speaking at the launch of three petroleum projects, Modi said the work done in the past 15 years must continue. The endorsement for Kumar's work comes ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections even as the rift between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) grows.
Indirectly pointing fingers at former governments of the Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Modi blamed Bihar's backwardness on a mindset that made them sneer at economic progress and considered lip-service sufficient for the upliftment of the poor. Modi said people used to frown upon road projects asking what they had to offer for those who walk on foot and do not own vehicles.
Modi said such indifference towards people also took a toll on higher education. However, he said, Bihar's infrastructure and higher education have improved in the past 15 years. "We must ensure good governance in Bihar. The good work done in the last 15 years must continue," he said adding that Kumar played a "big role in our aim towards a New India, New Bihar."
Kumar's Janata Dal (United) is a constituent of the NDA—led by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—which also comprises the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). Several LJP leaders have opposed the leadership of CM Kumar and were against the idea of him being the face of the NDA due to the poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the floods in Bihar, the migrant crisis, and unemployment.
Sources told News18 the spat pertained to seat-sharing ahead of state polls. Reportedly, LJP chief Chirag Paswan is hoping to contest at least 43 seats for the 243-seat Assembly. However, Kumar is unwilling to offer more than 25-30 seats to the LJP. The polls are likely to be held in October-November, before the tenure of the current Assembly ends on September 29.
However, Paswan had told NDTV on Saturday, "I have no problem with the name of Nitish Kumar as the face of the NDA." "I am okay with any Tom, Dick or Harry chosen by the BJP," he said, adding that partners need to agree to a common minimum program which includes his 'Bihar First and Bihari First' campaign.