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No Severing Ties With BJP In Assembly Polls: Nitish Kumar

PTI 24 Jan 2010, 11:47:31 IST

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was sought to be coveted by BJP's rivals during Lok Sabha elections on the basis of secular credentials, has ruled out severing ties with the saffron party in the Assembly elections that are due later this year.

Heading a JD(U)-BJP coalition government that has completed over four years and credited with providing a semblance of governance after 15 years of RJD rule under Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi, he claims that he has turned around Bihar and that now it was a matter of pride to call oneself a 'Bihari'.

"I am not a politician who thinks of ditching an ally. Both the parties enjoy strong bonds of relations and the leaders of the two parties know each other for a long period from being an opposition to attaining the seat of power," Kumar told PTI in an interview.

Unfazed by the setback the ruling alliance suffered in the by-polls to 18 assembly constituencies last year after a spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha polls, the Chief Minister said the alliance was strong as evident from the coordination between the two parties catering to all sections, including minorities.

In the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, Kumar had maintained a tantalising silence on what his strategy would be in case of a hung verdict with Congress virtually sending signals calling him a "secular" leader with whom it may not mind doing business.

The Chief Minister has also faced allegations of playing caste politics when he appointed a Mahadalit Commission in the interest of extremely-backward among the dalits.

"If doing justice to mahadalits which they deserve after they remained neglected for decades is being alleged as an attempt to divide the dalits in the name of mahadalits in Bihar, it can be termed as nothing but mental bankruptcy," he said.

"Go and ask the dalits about their happiness because of the state government's initiatives for what they deserve," he said.

He brushes off the defeat in the by-elections where the alliance lost 13 of the 18 seats, saying "we didn't take it seriously. It cannot be seen as a resurgence of any force."

"We are doing our job and it is for the people to assess our work and do justice," the Chief Minister said, rejecting suggestions that his popularity was weaning.

'The state's popularity is more important and the state has now attained an image and the people feel proud of speaking anywhere that they are from Bihar. Bihari kahna ab garv ki baat hai (to call oneself Bihari is a matter of pride now)," Kumar said. PTI