Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday lashed out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, by whom the BJP was dumped last year, and declared him a persona non grata “forever” to the NDA.
Shah, who addressed a conclave of farmers and labourers in Patna hours after a rally in West Champaran district, alleged that the JD(U) leader had joined hands with former adversaries Congress and RJD and “betrayed” the BJP because of his “Prime Ministerial ambitions”.
The union home minister, who is widely regarded as the BJP's principal strategist, also spoke of the need for a “double-decker double engine” government for Bihar, implying that the “party will achieve power on its own” in the state in 2025 assembly polls, “with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the saddle for yet another term in office after the 2024 elections”.
“Nitish babu had ditched us in the past”, said Shah, referring to the break-up in 2013, “but we reposed trust in him again in 2017. We won more seats than his JD(U) in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the assembly polls a year later, still, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for his return as the chief minister”.
“Now Nitish babu is sitting at the doorsteps (Dagar par) of (RJD supremo) Lalu Prasad. A time will come when it will be his turn to suffer Vishwasghaat (betrayal). But Nitish babu, now you shall never be admitted into the NDA”, the senior BJP leader said.
“I have never seen in my life a man who spouts lies so blatantly (Itna Jhooth Bolne Wala) and so treacherous (Itna Vishwasghat Karne Wala)," said Shah, visibly peeved at Kumar's claim, before quitting the NDA last year, that the BJP had tried to split the JD(U).
The union home minister spoke at the “Kisan Mazdur Samagam”, organised in memory of legendary peasant leader and freedom fighter Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, in presence of a host of top party leaders, including cabinet colleagues Giriraj Singh and Ashwini Kumar Choubey besides senior BJP leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi and Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Earlier, he had addressed a rally at Lauria in West Champaran district, falling under Balmiki Nagar Lok Sabha constituency, which has been a BJP stronghold though it was given away to the JD(U) in 2019 as part of seat-sharing arrangements.
Shah also made repeated references to murmurs of a “clandestine agreement” Kumar had reached with Lalu Prasad that the latter's younger son and heir apparent will be handed over to the chief minister's chair.
"This has led to a lot of confusion in the JD(U) itself," said the BJP leader, indirectly referring to the recent exit of Upendra Kushwaha.
"Doubts have emerged in people's minds too. If he (Kumar) has struck such a deal, he should make public the date on which he intends to hand over the charge to his deputy.
“I dare Nitish babu to tell the people of Bihar the date by which he wants to plunge Bihar into jungle raj which he had vowed to root out,” Shah said.
The union home minister, who also holds the cooperative portfolio, claimed that the Modi government's assistance to Bihar far surpassed what was granted during the Congress-led UPA regime in which Lalu Prasad was also a minister.
He also alleged that “many schemes and projects have been approved for Bihar but these have been stalled by Nitish babu who cannot tolerate the BJP getting credit even where it is due”.
In his speech at Lauria, Shah touched upon the alleged “demographic imbalance” and the Modi government's resolve to set it right, beside bold steps like the surgical strike, the Balakot air strike, abrogation of Article 370 and ban on Islamist organisation PFI.
Taunting the Bihar CM for “sitting in the laps of Sonia Gandhi and Lalu Prasad”, Shah likened the JD(U)'s alliance with RJD to “attempts at mixing oil with water”.
“Water and oil cannot blend. So, here we have RJD, like oil rising to the surface and the JD(U), like water, disappearing beneath”, said Shah, in an indirect reference to apprehensions that the chief minister's party was getting overshadowed by the domineering new ally.