PATNA: Stung by the saffron party's decision that there will be no alliance with the "unpopular" JD(U) leader, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asserted that he will "rather die" than realign with the BJP.
Kumar made the remark while replying to questions here, from journalists, about the BJP's decision taken at its two-day state executive meeting that concluded in Darbhanga on the previous day.
"Mar jaana qabool hai lekin unke saath jaana humko kabhi qabool nahin hai, yah yaad rakhiye) (I will rather die than join hands with them, do remember this)," the septuagenarian said on the sidelines of a function organised on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary.
Kumar, the state's longest-serving CM, reminded the BJP of the stupendous success it shared under his leadership at the hustings, including the 2010 assembly polls when the saffron party had won 91 seats, its best-ever performance.
The JD(U) supremo, who pulled the plug on alliance with the BJP in August last year, claimed that the saffron party used to get even the votes of Muslims who felt secure enough under his leadership to temporarily shun their wariness of Hindutva.
"On this day, Bapu was assassinated. And he was assassinated by those who had a problem with his commitment to protecting the Muslims," the socialist leader said, referring to Mahatma Gandhi's interventions during the riots that broke out around Partition and his insistence that Pakistan be paid a sum of Rs 55 crore.
Kumar also said that after having snapped ties with the BJP in 2013, when Narendra Modi took centre stage, he committed a "mistake" by realigning with the saffron party again in 2017.
Turning towards his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, the CM said, "So many cases have been lodged against his father (RJD supremo Lalu Prasad). Nothing came of it. They (BJP) put pressure on me to join hands again. Now they are trying to frame these people again in other cases".
"I was reluctant to become the CM in 2020 when our party won fewer seats than them, thanks to their inability to transfer their votes to us. Our voters supported them which helped them perform better. They put pressure on me to take charge again. But in my party, resentment was growing towards their questionable role in the polls and I took the decision to part ways," the JD(U) leader said.
Kumar, who has often been called a "habitual betrayer" by the BJP, also claimed that even at the peak of the success of their alliance, the saffron party had not been fair towards the JD(U).
"In 2010, at five or six places they had got parties like the JMM, which has the same poll symbol as ours, to contest so that our voters get confused. This cost us five or six seats," he alleged.
Notably, the 2010 elections also saw JD(U) putting up its best-ever performance, with a tally of more than 110 in the 243-strong assembly though its strike rate was slightly lower than that of the BJP, a fact often bandied about by the saffron party to underscore that its footprint in Bihar has been growing.
Kumar also mocked the BJP's claim that it would win "at least 36 out of 40" seats in the Lok Sabha polls next year.
"They will get to know the reality when the polls take place. I hope that parties opposed to them come together across the country to defeat them. In Bihar, they are bound to be drubbed," claimed Kumar, who is now with the Grand Alliance comprising RJD, Congress and the Left.
Without naming any leader, Kumar lashed out at the current ruling dispensation at the Centre for "excessive propaganda" (prachaar-prasaar), renaming of places and doing away with long-established practices like a separate budget for railways, a portfolio he had held in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
(With PTI inputs)