Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's remarks that Nitish Kumar should become the chief minister if the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance secures a majority in the next year's assembly polls, has triggered a political debate in Bihar ahead of the bypoll in ten seats in the state.
New alliance partners of JD(U), RJD and Congress said it is the opinion "of the JD(U) and not of the alliance". The leader of the alliance will be decided when the time comes, they said.
RJD Legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui told PTI, "it is the stand of JD(U) and not of the alliance. Decision about Chief Minister of the alliance will be taken after Assembly poll by leaders of the partner parties...at that time any A B C can be chosen as chief minister," Siddiqui said.
Congress also dubbed Manjhi's assertions as an "internal matter of JD(U)." "When the alliance for the crucial Assembly election next year will be formalised and seeing the poll results, a decision will be taken by leaders of partner parties as to who will be the chief minister," Congress Vice President and its media in-charge, Prem Chand Mishra said.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav of BJP told PTI over phone from Banka, "Manjhi's comments confirm that Nitish Kumar is the actual force of present government and he is only a pawn. From the beginning we have been saying that tie-up between JD(U), RJD and Congress is "immoral," the BJP leader said. Yadav said BJP would not give trouble to JD(U), RJD and Congress to decide on chief ministership as it would come to power after Assembly poll.
Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) Parliamentary board chief and MP, Chirag Paswan alleged that Manjhi's assertions confirms that "he is a dummy CM...all the decisions of the present government is taken by Nitish Kumar."
Manjhi's comments at Dhanbad yesterday on Nitish Kumar, whom he succeeded after Kumar had stepped down following JD(U)'s drubbing in the general elections, has received support from his party JD(U).
Backing Manjhi's views JD(U) legislator and party spokesman Neeraj Kumar said "Manjhi has repeated the decision of Legislative party meeting in the wake of resignation of Nitish Kumar that he will lead the party in Assembly polls." His party colleague and MLC Sanjay Singh echoed similar views, saying, "Nitish Kumar is the most enlarged face of the alliance."
Meanwhile, BJP hit the campaign trail today with its senior leaders Sushil Kumar Modi and Nand Kishore Yadav campaigning in Jale and Banka respectively.
Leaders of JD(U), RJD and Congress are expected to begin canvassing from tomorrow. As part of seat-sharing, JD(U) and RJD are fighting on four seats each while Congress has fielded candidates on two seats.
In the NDA camp, BJP is contesting on nine seats while ally LJP has fielded its candidate on Parbatta seat. Of the 10 seats going to bypolls following election of some to Lok Sabha and resignations of MLAs in the other seats, six were with BJP, three with RJD and JD(U) one.