Muzaffarpur: BJP's rabble-rouser Union minister Giriraj Singh on Tuesday hinted he may hang up his boots at the end of the current Modi government's tenure, and virtually ruled himself out of contention for chief ministership after the assembly polls next year.
He was responding to questions at a press conference where he was asked to comment on the growing demand in a section of the BJP about reconsidering JD(U)'s Nitish Kumar as the NDA's chief ministerial face during the next assembly elections.
"I think I am nearing the end of my political career. I am among those who had entered public life not with the ambition of becoming a legislator, an MP, or acquiring any position of power. I was fired by the nationalistic dream of integration of Kashmir for which our ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee gave up his life," Singh said, evading a direct reply to the query.
Singh indicated since Prime Minister Narendra Modi had fulfilled that dream, he may retire from politics. "We are fortunate to have a prime minister like Narendra Modi who, finally, showed the resolve to fulfil the pledge. I feel a sense of accomplishment. Nothing more needs to be achieved. I think my political career will come to an end with the ongoing tenure of Modi," Singh, a staunch Modi loyalist since his days as the Gujarat chief minister, said.
A Minister of State with independent charge in the first Modi government, Singh was elevated to the cabinet rank after the Lok Sabha polls this year. He retained the Begusarai seat for his party after trouncing CPIs Kanhaiya Kumar by a staggering over four lakh votes. Known to share cold vibes with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar since his days as a member of the state cabinet, Singh was in news recently after he alleged his constituency was getting "step motherly" treatment by the state government, which was "generous" towards Nalanda, the CM's native district.
Earlier this month, some BJP leaders had favoured a BJP chief minister in Bihar after the saffron party outshone Kumar's JD(U) in the Lok Sabha polls. The JD(U), which was hitherto considered the senior partner in the coalition in Bihar, and the BJP had contested 17 seats each of the 40 in the state.
The BJP won all seats it contested, while the JD(U) lost one. However, a section of the state unit of the BJP feels the coalition's sterling performance was on account of a Modi wave that swept Bihar and many other states, and maintains that the saffron party, having played a second fiddle to the JD(U) for years, has a rightful claim to chief ministership.
Speculation was rife in the NDA circles in Bihar that BJP leaders were making such statements at Singh's prodding despite Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi backing Kumar for another term in office.
Singh's statement in Muzaffarpur, a bastion of his Bhumihar castemen, came barely a couple of hours ahead of the chief ministers scheduled visit to the town where he will attend a couple of functions. NDA sources said his remarks stemmed from his feeling slighted because of a meeting Kumar had with top RSS functionaries Ram Lal and Ramesh Bappa on Monday.
Though what transpired at the meeting was not yet known, many in the ruling coalition saw in it an indication that the BJP's ideological mentor did not approve of the clamour for a change of guard at this stage.
Singh had got a rap on the knuckles by Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah a few months back after he taunted Nitish Kumar for hosting Iftaar parties during Ramadan but making no such arrangements for those who observed a fast during Navaratri festival and ate only fruits.
Known for making controversial remarks, often targeting Muslims, Singh had told an election rally during the Lok Sabha polls that "those who cannot say Vande Mataram or don't respect motherland, the nation will never forgive them.
My ancestors died at Simaria Ghat and did not need a grave but you need three handspans of space." The Election Commission had found him guilty of violating the model code of conduct. Fighting Lok Sabha election from Nawada in 2014, he had kicked up a huge row with his remarks that those opposed to Modi should go back to Pakistan as there is no place for them in India.