Former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi on Thursday indicated that she will not mind Nitish Kumar, her husband Lalu Prasad's arch rival, vacating his chair for a plush assignment in Delhi.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader was replying to questions from journalists who were trying to make sense of a reportedly off-the-cuff remark by Kumar which has triggered furious speculations that he may move to Delhi as the next Vice President of the country.
“He should go. Everyone would like him to go away. (jana hi chahiye. Sabhi log chahenge ki chale jaayein), she said replying to queries about the cryptic remark made by Kumar that he had been a member of both Houses in the state legislature and the Lok Sabha and a term in Rajya Sabha would complete his political journey.
To a pointed query about speculations that Kumar could emerge as the Bharatiya Janata Party's choice for the post of Vice-President after the expiry of Venkaiah Naidu's term in a few months, the reticent Rabri Devi repied “achcha hi na rahega (will it not be good for him?)”.
Kumar is reported to have made the Rajya Sabha remark during an informal chat with some journalists who had asked him about his recent tour of areas falling under the now abolished Barh Lok Sabha constituency which he had represented many times.
The journalists had queried, apparently in a jocular vein, whether Kumar had plans to contest parliamentary elections again.
A section of the media has since been running reports speculating that the Janat Dal-United leader, who has been in power in Bihar since 2005 and has become the longest serving Chief Minister of the state, could move to Delhi for a top constitutional post.
The reports also claim that he might agree to a new power-sharing formula in the state where the BJP, which had won far more seats than the JD-U in the 2020 assembly polls, could be allowed to have its own Chief Minister.
Incidentally, Bihar remains the only state in the entire “Hindi belt” where the BJP has never had its own Chief Minister.
BJP leaders like MLA Vinay Bihari have openly pitched for “our own CM” while taking care to add that the final decision rests with the national leadership.
Upon returning to power for his fourth consecutive term in office, Kumar had claimed that he had, following the JD-U's relatively poor performance in polls, expressed the desire to step down and make way for the BJP but relented only after the alliance partner insisted that he continue occupying the top post.
Nonetheless, the state's hyperactive rumour bill is busy coming out with names of BJP leaders who could make it in the event of Kumar's departure.
The “front-runners” include Nityanand Rai, the Minister of State for Home known to be trusted by both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, whose elevation brings the promise of breaching the sway of the RJD, the main opposition party, over the sizeable Yadav community.
Meanwhile, all eyes are fixed at the next move by Kumar, a deft player of the game of politics, who had cryptically told an election rally in 2020 that it was his “aakhiri chunav”, only to reiterate later “I will continue to work for the people of Bihar for as long as they wish”.