Bihar Congress chief responds with sarcasm to Nitish Kumar’s statement on the INDIA bloc

Congress State president Akhilesh Prasad Singh with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in Patna on October 26, 2023.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Bihar Congress chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh on Monday remarked in apparent sarcasm that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s desire to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a day or two was not possible given the Lok Sabha election schedule. Mr. Singh was reacting to Mr. Kumar’s recent statement that the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) Opposition bloc was losing steam because the Congress was more interested in winning the upcoming Assembly elections in five States.

“Nitish-ji wants to remove Narendra Modi-ji tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Is it possible? The Lok Sabha election will be held at its scheduled time,” Mr. Singh said, when asked for his response to Mr. Kumar’s statement at an event during which several BJP leaders joined the Congress at Sadaquat Ashram, the party headquarters here.

“Election is being held in five States. In Chhattisgarh, the Congress is in power. In Madhya Pradesh also, we will form the government. In Rajasthan, Congress will form the government once again. In Mizoram and Telangana, Congress is contesting against the regional parties. Elections in States are equally important because the State makes the nation. Once Congress forms the government in these five States, the graph of the INDIA bloc will automatically go high,” he added.

Mr. Singh also said that Mr. Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad will also benefit from the victory of the Congress party.

Mr. Kumar had made his comment on the INDIA bloc while addressing a Communist Party of India (CPI) ‘Bhajapa hatao, Desh bachao’ (remove BJP, save the country) rally in Patna. Following this, on November 4, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge reportedly spoke to Mr. Kumar over a phone call. 

In political circles here, Mr. Singh’s sarcasm is seen as a result of the Congress’ frustration over Mr. Kumar’s failure to accede to the party’s repeated demands for two more berths in the Bihar Cabinet.

Ever since the Mahagathbandhan alliance formed the government in Bihar, the Congress has been asking for four State Cabinet berths. However, Mr. Kumar has only accommodated two Congress leaders in his Cabinet.

Mr. Singh had raised this demand in front of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too, at the end of an Opposition meeting on June 23 in Patna. Mr. Gandhi had also urged Mr. Kumar to induct more Congress leaders in his Cabinet. Four months later, the situation remains unchanged.

The Bihar Cabinet currently comprises 29 Ministers — 14 from the RJD; 12 from Mr. Kumar’s Janata Dal-United (JD-U); two from the Congress; and none from the Left parties as they are supporting the government from outside.

Mr. Kumar’s inflexibility in not inducting more Congress leaders into his Cabinet is viewed as his anger over not being named the convenor of the INDIA bloc, which he sees as having come about due to his initiative in uniting all Opposition parties.

“The Chief Minister is an intelligent person and he will take the decision when the right time comes. He should fill up the vacant post as soon as possible,” Mr. Singh said, when asked again about the Congress’ pending demand for State Cabinet positions.

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