Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar buried the lead at a party meeting he held on the weekend. At the end of the session with senior leaders of his Janata Dal United or JD(U), Mr Kumar, 66, asked casually, "What happens to the party if I die?"
As the gathering of about 215 politicians erupted in nervous chatter, the Chief Minister said what he meant was that in his absence, the ruling party of Bihar must remain committed to its principles and to serving the people.
Nitish Kumar has not been unwell. He keeps firm control of his government (12-hour working days are his norm). In July, he pulled a game-changing switcheroo, abandoning an alliance with the Congress and regional leader Lalu Yadav to form a new partnership with the BJP. That decision led to a split with his political partner of several decades, Sharad Yadav, who co-ran their party but said he could not abide by the decision to collaborate with the BJP.
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