Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday sought to clarify his recent “aakhiri chunaav” (last poll) remark which had triggered intense speculations, and claimed that it was an utterance made by him whenever he wrapped up an election campaign, but it was “misunderstood” this time.
The JD(U) president was talking to journalists for the first time after results for the Assembly elections came out and the NDA got a clear majority, though his own party suffered a slump and got outperformed by junior partner BJP. The JD(U) won 43 seats against the saffron party’s 71.
“You guys did not get it right. I say the same thing at the last rally in every election — anth bhala to sab bhala (all is well that ends well),” said Kumar when asked about his closing remarks at an election meeting he addressed in Purnia district last week, shortly before campaigning for the final phase of polls came to an end.
“Listen to what I said before and after it and you will understand the context. Had you done so, you would not have misunderstood it,” said Kumar whose words “ye mera aakhiri chunaav hai” (this is my last election) was interpreted by the Opposition as an admission of impending defeat and a ploy to strike a chord with an angry electorate.
However, JD(U) leaders had later came out with a clarification that “aakhiri chunaav” meant “aakhiri chunaavi sabha” (last election meeting) and Kumar was not talking about retirement.
The 69-year-old chief minister, who has been in power since 2005, appeared unhappy over projections of a strong anti-incumbency during the elections and predictions of a rout of the ruling dispensation.
“I have been selflessly serving people. Still, some people succeeded in creating some confusion. You must have noted the anxieties triggered in public mind following the projections of the exit polls,” Kumar said.
Most exit polls had predicted a comfortable victory for the RJD-led Grand Alliance which had led to fears, among those not sympathetic to Lalu Prasad’s party, that its return to power could lead to lawlessness.
“Jungle raj”, alluding to the alleged lawlessness that prevailed during the 15 years Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi had ruled the state, came to be the recurring theme of the NDA’s poll campaign.
Lending weight to the narrative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is being credited for the BJP’s stellar performance, had repeatedly warned the people of the state against promises made by Prasad’s heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav, whom he never mentioned by name but always referred to as “jungle raj ke yuvraj“.
Yadav was also the chief ministerial candidate of the RJD-led Grand Alliance.