Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan today described Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as a “natural” ally of the BJP and said his return to the NDA will not only give Bihar a corruption-free government but also ensure the opposition parties draw a blank in the 2019 general polls. Attacking Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi over his comment that he was aware of Kumar’s move was being planned, he said the grand old party was a “sinking” ship and felt “sorry” for the young leader as whenever he speaks “things and votes” glide into minus. The minister also hit out at Gandhi for allegedly siding with RJD chief Lalu Yadav, whose family members are facing graft charges, saying Kumar must have been “most angry” with the Congress leader for not taking a stand against their corrupt practices before the grand alliance broke. Paswan said the coming together of the JD(U) and the BJP will ensure “direct” benefit to the NDA during vice presidential poll.
The JD(U) had earlier declared its support to the opposition’s joint candidate, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, for the August 5 election. The Union Food and Public Distribution Minister also reiterated that the prime minister’s post was “not vacant till 2024”, suggesting Narendra Modi will continue to lead the NDA even after Kumar, often considered as a contender in the race to the top office, joined hands with the BJP. Kumar, who headed the grand alliance dispensation till yesterday, resigned as the chief minister, deserting the company of Congress-RJD and teamed up with the saffron party to form a new government in the state.
“This was to happen. None can stay comfortable in the company of ‘egoistic’ (Lalu) Yadav. Nitish always looked under a spell of tension when he was with Yadav. The BJP-JD(U) is a natural alliance,” he told reporters here. “The new government will successfully complete its over three-year term. It will offer corruption-free and pro- development governance in Bihar,” said Paswan, who had earlier predicted the grand alliance government formed in 2015 will come down mid-way.
Paswan, a leader from Bihar himself, said Kumar’s walking over to the NDA will mean gains for the ruling alliance at the Centre during the vice presidential poll and also the next Lok Sabha elections. “Although I have not spoken to JD(U) leaders yet, it is but natural they will support our vice presidential candidate (M Venkaiah Naidu) in the election which we were anyways going to win,” he said.
Paswan slammed Gandhi for allegedly not taking stand against Yadav over the issue of corruption charges. “Gandhi had taken stand against corruption issue, had torn apart a copy of an ordinance which would have favoured Yadav when Manmohan Singh was the prime minister. Now he did not take stand against corruption of the Yadavs. I think Nitish would have been most angry with Gandhi only,” Paswan said.
To a question whether his Lok Janshakti Party, which contested the 2015 Bihar assembly polls as a constituent of the BJP-led NDA, will get ministerial berth in the new JD(U)- BJP government, Paswan said the issue will be discussed by the leaders concerned when he goes to Patna tomorrow. “We are with them, but not for ministerial post. I am going there tomorrow, will discuss the issue. As I said, everything is but natural,” he added.