India

Ally Chirag Paswan Needles Nitish Kumar Again, Echoes Tejashwi On Polls

Ally Chirag Paswan Needles Nitish Kumar Again, Echoes Tejashwi On Polls

"The Election Commission should think carefully and take a decision," Chirag Paswan said

Patna:

Nitish Kumar, accused by the opposition in Bihar of favouring elections despite the coronavirus risk, faces similar views from an ally. Chirag Paswan, the Lok Janshakti Party leader who has needled the Chief Minister more than once in recent months, went public with his worry about the Bihar election due later this year, and urged the Election Commission to consider the danger to voters.

"The Election Commission should think carefully and take a decision lest a large section of the population is endangered because of elections. Polling percentage in an election held in the middle of a pandemic can also plunge, which is not good for the democracy," tweeted Chirag Paswan, whose father Ram Vilas Paswan is a minister in the BJP-led government at the centre.

Mr Paswan's words are bound to rankle at a time Nitish Kumar has been facing almost daily attacks from the opposition RJD, which says the state government is playing down the coronavirus situation so assembly elections can be held on time.

"The poor are dying. But instead of looking after them, these people are worried only about their chair," said RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, who is also the leader of the opposition in the Bihar assembly.

"They are only worried about their seat. The BJP is doing their virtual rallies, the Chief Minister is doing his virtual rallies. But they are not standing with the poor people of Bihar. The poor are dying. There is devastation everywhere. But they are only worried about their kursi. They are preparing for the election," Mr Yadav said.

The Bihar election, in which Nitish Kumar will seek a fourth term, is due by November.

Sushil Modi, Mr Kumar's deputy and one of the senior-most BJP leaders said, "At a time the Election Commission is trying to conduct the elections in a safe manner amid the coronavirus outbreak, RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav is unnecessarily trying to rake up the issue".

Mr Paswan's latest tweet once again highlights the rip in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar despite the BJP's efforts to project unity.

Recently, the LJP leader removed a party leader for putting out a statement that the NDA is united in Bihar.

After Mr Paswan's attacks, Mr Kumar's Janata Dal United has hardened its stand and ruled out any seat-sharing for assembly polls where Mr Paswan's party is also a partner. The LJP will have to ask for seats from the BJP's share, said a JDU leader.

In May, Mr Paswan had commented that he would support the BJP "whether it goes with Nitish Kumar's leadership or changes its mind".

The BJP has declared Nitish Kumar the chief ministerial face of the ruling NDA for the Bihar election.