Only days after breaking up with the JD(U) and Congress in Bihar, and reuniting with his former ally the BJP, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that no one is strong enough to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 general elections.
The Indian Express quoted Kumar as saying, "Modi ji ka muqabla karne ki kisi mein chhamta hai nahi (no one has the power to take on Modi ji)."
Kumar also said that he had no choice but to break his alliance with RJD and Lalu Prasad Yadav because of the corruption cases against the RJD leader and his family.
"I didn't have a choice, I tolerated everything. But when the corruption allegations were made, it created a hubbub not only in the state but on a national level," Kumar was quoted by The Times of India as saying.
Kumar's comments praising Modi come even as his party chief Sharad Yadav expressed unhappiness about the unexpected and game-changing turn of events in Bihar last week when Kumar quit as the chief minister of the state, after which the BJP offered support to Kumar's government.
Now the BJP is part of the government of Bihar, something, Yadav said, was not the original mandate of the people.
"The current situation in Bihar is very disappointing for me. The mandate by the people of Bihar was not for this. I don't agree with the decision taken in Bihar. It's unfortunate," Sharad Yadav told the media.
Amid the new-found bonhomie between Kumar and Modi, other JD(U) leaders have also said that the decision to break away from the mahagathbandhan -- grand alliance -- in Bihar came as a surprise to them.
After meeting Sharad Yadav, JD(U) leader Ali Anwar said, "We are not being rebellious, by meeting Sharad Yadav. The entire episode took place so suddenly. We, including Sharad Yadav, had no idea that such a big development would happen overnight. It is surprising."
Other party members aren't very happy either.
"We met Sharad Yadav today who is the founder member of the JD(U) and raised concern over the decision of Nitish Kumar. He took this decision without discussing it with any senior leader of the party. Even Sharad Yadav is worried about this," JD(U) leader Arun Kumar told ANI.
Even as his party leaders remain concerned, Kumar's comments and recent decisions make clear where his loyalties lie at the moment.
The fact that Kumar was getting closer to the BJP and moving away from the mahagathbandhan had become clearer over the past few months.
Recently, while the Opposition proposed Meira Kumar as their presidential candidate, Kumar backed the BJP's candidate Ram Nath Kovind, raising eyebrows.
By allying with the BJP, Kumar has ensured that the party that won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with a landslide victory and has been winning most assembly elections since then, has another state in its kitty. The BJP is in power in 17 out of 31 states in India.
All in all, Kumar may not have been wrong in making his latest move. Modi has always had his eyes set on the bigger picture. As an analysis piece in the Reuters points out, the BJP, which has great power in the Lok Sabha, is now trying to conquer the Rajya Sabha.
The report quoted Bhupender Yadav, the BJP's national general secretary, as saying, "The results of the Gujarat election will prove that [the] Congress is broken, dismantled and they have nothing to offer to their members and to the country."
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