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BJP supports Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar as face of the ruling NDA

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PATNA: The BJP came out in strong support of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar as the face of the ruling NDA ahead of the upcoming assembly election, backing the JD (U) chief amid a sustained attack by former partner LJP which is set to put up candidates against the JD (U).

In a joint press conference with the BJP on Tuesday, Kumar announced the seat-sharing formula among the NDA members. The JD (U) has got 122 seats, one more than the BJP, but it has given seven seats to Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha from its own quota. Similarly, the BJP will adjust the VIP from its quota of seats. The BJP and the VIP are still in discussion over seat-sharing, which is expected to be finalised soon.

To present a united face, the conference was attended by deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi of the BJP, along with the BJP’s central and other state leaders, and senior JD(U) leaders including the CM.

Ever since LJP leader Chirag Paswan parted ways with the NDA in the state, there was a silence from the BJP’s camp. However, on Tuesday, the party expressed clear support to the JD (U). “LJP was part of the alliance. Things would have been different if (LJP founder) Ram Vilas Paswan’s health condition were normal. Anyone who doesn’t accept Nitish Kumar as a leader will not be the part of NDA in Bihar,” Bihar BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal said during the conference.

Sushil Kumar Modi went a step ahead and said that if needed, the party would write to the Election Commission that no one except the four parties in the alliance should use the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in any of their campaign material.

“Nitish Kumar would be the CM no matter who wins how many seats,” said Modi.

CM Nitish Kumar also reinforced his party’s ties with the BJP. “We have a long association of working together. I am not bothered about who says what,” he said. “If Ram Vilas Paswan went to the Rajya Sabha it was due to the support of both the JD(U) and the BJP. The party (LJP) had only two MLAs. We always cooperate with alliance partners.”

He said he doesn’t care what is going in other people’s minds.

Hitting out at the RJD, Kumar said, “There were not even roads 15 years back and the state was known for massacres. We are here to serve the people and are contesting elections with a positive outlook.”

A number of BJP leaders who are not getting tickets under the seat-sharing agreement with the JD (U) are joining the LJP to contest the election, an issue that the BJP’s Bihar in-charge Bhupender Yadav addressed.

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