New Delhi: The relations between the BJP and the JDU seems to be moving beyond shadow boxing and the acrimony has come to the fore more frequently in the recent times, with some real give and take of pouches.
Nitish Kumar’s seemingly casual remark that the Pegasus issue should be probed deeper appears to be with much forethought and planning than just a knee jerk response to an issue which has become tricky for the BJP. The demand for a probe coming from Nitish Kumar directly speaks volumes about the wedge that seems to have gone deeper between the two alliance partners.
On the other hand BJP senior leader and Panchayti Raj Minister Samrat Chaudhary has been repeatedly hammering the point that “Nitish was made the CM by the BJP” despite having far less number of seats. He has been exhorting the party workers to gird up the loins so that the party is in a position to form its own government in 2025 without the support of anyone. He indicated that “running a coalition government is very difficult” and compared the ruling dispensation in Bihar to the neighboring states where the BJP is in power on its own. He had made similar statements in Vaishali and reiterated it days later in Aurangabad? So is it stifling for the BJP that Nitish is in the Chair but refuses to toe the line of the BJP? Had the statements of Samrat Chaudhary been averse to the BJP, possibly the BJP would have issued clarifications distancing itself from the remarks of Samrat and terming the same as that of his own. That never happened.
Another insult was added to the BJP when Nitish Kumar vehemently started advocating the caste based census in the country. He and Tejashwi are on the same page with Tejashwi even meeting Nitish Kumar to exhort him to demand the same. Nitish Kumar had already made his intent on NRC and other similar issues very clear.
So is it that while attempts were made by both alliance partners earlier to sweep the dirt under the carpet, the same has now been stopped for reasons of new political churnings? Much seems to be cooking in the political cauldron of Bihar. Nitish always has the options open to switch sides and remain in power. He has done that in the past and can do it in the future. He also has the option of being the most acceptable face of a front against the BJP. He nurtured the same ambitions in 2014 when he had made the statement that he too is, “a PM material.”
Upendra Kushwaha, now a tall leader within the JDU recently said that after Modi there are several others who can be PM and added that Nitish is one of them. Samrat Chaudhary was quick to retort that there is no vacancy for the next 10 years.
The opposition is sniffing an opportunity here and is trying to rake up the issue. The Congress is already having an open door policy for Nitish Kumar.
Another major development has been the meeting of Nitish Kumar with OM Prakash Chautala of INLD . Chautala of late has been very critical of the Modi government and has been terming it as ” Kisan Virodhi”. He has also given a call for like minded parties to unite and uproot the BJP government at the center. Nitish however tried to suggest that the meeting was purely personal since Chautala too had ” Samajwadi antecedents ” and that politically they are apart. But is it that Nitish Kumar wanted to send the message aloud to the BJP top brass?
Possibly the genesis to the same is in the results of the 2020 assembly elections in Bihar. The BJP never tried to distance itself from the LJP which made a severe dent into the vote bank of Nitish Kumar by fielding candidates on all seats contested by the JDU. The results were like a bolt from the Blue for the JDU as Nitish Kumar was riding high on the prospects of garnering majority of votes of the fairer sex for having ushered in the prohibitory laws in the state. JDU was drastically reduced to a distant third and yet the BJP ushered him into the chair of the CM. But time and again the rumblings from within the BJP have been quite apparent. Possibly a vast majority within the state leaders of the BJP were unhappy with the decision that was thrust upon them from the central leadership. Nitish in one of the party meetings immediately after the results had also indicated that he realized that there was back stabbing without naming any party.
Barring a few motormouths the BJP has more or less been giving measured reactions to the onslaught coming from the JDU. Mukesh Sahni skipped the meeting of NDA that was chaired by Nitish Kumar and said that there was no point joining the meeting when the smaller parties within the ruling coalition were not even heard. Manjhi has already been very critical of the BJP and has tried to give out the semblance of standing firmly behind Nitish Kumar. The balance of power in Bihar is very precarious as the state government runs on a wafer thin majority and Nitish Kumar had no qualms joining hands with the RJD in 2015.
The results of Bengal can also be emboldening for those averse to the BJP and looking for an opportunity to forge an alliance that becomes formidable enough as a third front to replace the saffron brigade. Can Nitish Kumar be that face which can be the rallying point for several regional parties to come together and offer an alternative to Modi?
The recent reverses of the BJP has at least laid bare the larger than life image of Modi or at least seems to have given those a ray of hope who want to replace him.
Nitish kumars stand on Pegasus row and his stand on caste based census as well as NRC snd a host of other issues have become the trigger point. The hatchet was never buried by the two alliance partners and Nitish is now a man who prefers to keep his options open.