Putting to rest all speculations, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today said he would fight the next assembly elections as part of the BJP-led NDA and win more than 200 seats in the state. The chief minister made this declaration at his party’s workers’ conference organised at the Gandhi Maidan to mark his 69th birthday.

The “clarification” assumes significance in the light of the prevailing speculations about his growing proximity with Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav from the RJD in the recent week during which he had held two successive closed-door meetings with the latter in the Bihar assembly. The unusual meetings between the two leaders later saw the Bihar Assembly pass two resolutions—first about not implementing the controversial NRC and also the NPR in current format and secondly, favouring a caste-based Census— although the JD-U described it as a courtesy meeting.

“You should not have any doubts about our meetings as some people are creating rumours. The NDA is intact and together we will win more than 200 seats in the upcoming assembly elections,” the chief minister told his workers, asking them to lend their full support to put up a spectacular performance.

At the rally, the chief minister harped on issues of RJD’s “Jungle Raj” and how his government had established the “rule of law” in the state, improved infrastructure and health conditions, and enacted many laws for the benefits of the masses. All through his hour-long speech, he continued rattling out his government’s achievements one-by-one and then comparing them with that of the RJD regime. Curiously, both the RJD and the JD-U led by the chief minister have ruled Bihar for 15 years each at a stretch. Given this situation, the next assembly elections in the state become very important.

The JD-U had fought the last 2015 assembly elections in alliance with Lalu Prasad’s RJD and got huge mandate but after staying together for barely 20 months, Nitish broke alliance with the RJD and formed his new government with the support of the BJP. Strangely, he had got the mandate against the BJP.