Even as Bihar braces itself for the remaining three phases of the Assembly polls, Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley has opined that the outcome of the state election will not be a referendum on Centre. Speaking in New Delhi, Arun Jaitley expressed confidence that BJP will sweep the next two phases of polls and will form the government in the state.
“State ka election centre pe janadesh nahi hota hai (state elections are not a referendum on Centre),” Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley said.
Mr. Jaitley’s remarks have come in the backdrop of speculation over the BJP’s performance in the first two phases, where the BJP is facing stiff challenge from incumbent Nitish Kumar-led ‘Grand Alliance’. He added that those 81 seats which went to polls in the first two phases were historically never been BJP’s stronghold, though he expressed that the party ‘will be ahead of its rivals”.
“The first two phases were historically never a stronghold of BJP. Out of 81 seats, we had 21 seats. We will be ahead of our rivals in these phases… We will make significant gains,” he said claiming further that the BJP will “sweep” the third and fourth phase.
“We will sweep in third and fourth phase polling in north Bihar,” Arun Jaitley said.
The third phase of the 243-seat assembly is scheduled to go on polls on October 28, followed by 55 seats in the fourth phase on November 1 and last phase with 57 seats going to the polls on November 5. The counting will begin on November 8.
Rejecting that high-voltage Bihar assembly elections are any kind of referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government at the Centre, Mr. Jaitley said if the BJP-led NDA comes to the power, it will strengthen the Centre and raise its capability to help Bihar. He also added that BJP will form a government in the state along with its allies even if it were to get a clear majority.
“We got a clear majority in Lok Sabha elections but we choose to take our allies along in government formation. The same will be repeated in Bihar,” he said.
The Finance minister, however, didn’t hold back from taking on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his JD (U)-RJD-Congress led ‘Grand Alliance’.
“His ambition was to send Lalu Prasad (of RJD) to jail and capture major chunk of his vote bank to form a JD (U) government. Opposition to Modi was only an excuse. When the entire country had accepted him than how could JD-U have kept opposing him,” Arun Jaitley said.
“But the strategy failed in Lok Sabha polls last year and was forced to join hands with Lalu Prasad as well as unimaginable thing of a Lohia movement leader sitting in lap of Rahul Gandhi,” he added.
(With inputs from the PTI)