PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday dismissed media reports that spoke about a rift in his Janata Dal (United), and asserted that all was well in his party. A section of media claimed that JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan and his predecessor RCP Singh, who stepped down upon induction in Union Cabinet, have emerged as rival power centres.

Kumar, who is the party’s de facto leader, said “sabhi log ek jut hain” (all are united), while replying to queries of journalists who drew his attention to some posters of RCP Singh where Lalan’s image was absent and the speculations triggered in the wake.

He pointed out that after having held the national president’s post himself for quite some time, “I expressed the desire to pass on the mantle to RCP Singh a few months ago. But he later wanted to be relieved of the party post after his hands became full as a cabinet minister at the Centre”. “The name of Lalan, who is our old colleague and has been with us since the Samata Party days, was endorsed by all at the recent national executive meeting,” claimed Kumar.

Notably, besides RCP Singh, Lalan was also considered as one of the top contenders for a cabinet berth from the quota of the JD(U).

Asked about the party’s strategy in the upcoming assembly elections in several states, including the all-important one in Uttar Pradesh, Kumar said, “We have sought feedbacks from our units in the states where polls are due. Based on the situation, we will take a decision whether to stitch an alliance or go it alone.”

To another query on the COVID-19 situation in the state, Kumar reaffirmed that his government was committed to the inoculation of “six crore people” by the end of the year, but added that he wanted the testing rate to remain high to prevent the spread of the disease.

“I have given instructions that notwithstanding the sharp dip in the positivity rate, our testing rate should be as high as two lakh samples per day. This, combined with vaccination, will help us effectively combat the pandemic,” said the chief minister. The Patna High Court had recently frowned upon a drop in the testing rate in the state where the number of cases in a day has dipped below 100 as against 15,000 recorded when the second wave of the pandemic was at its peak.