Notwithstanding PM Modi endorsing Nitish Kumar to continue as the Bihar CM, a senior BJP leader active in the poll campaign in the state has warned the party leadership not to get into the trap of a game the JD-U chief is playing to ditch the party, not immediately but in not a distant future, to tie up with the RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav.
He had done it in 2015 and he can do it again to remain in the CM’s chair without any challenge as he would be more comfortable to handle Tejashwi than the BJP’s Sushil Modi tipped to be again the deputy CM, the leader underlined.
He claimed Nitish is hobnobbing with Tejashwi, 31, as he is not able to stomach the humiliation of his party’s tally stopped at 43 as against the BJP romping home 74 seats. Nitish suspects the BJP’s hand in the defeat of his many candidates and as such he finds dependence on the BJP for survival of his government strategically wrong.
He has sent feelers to Tejashwi through his aides to scale down his outcry over the loss of the election and be prepared for an alliance with his JD-U. His party sources say Nitish finds it difficult to manage the saffron party having a bumper majority, while it will be easier to manage Tejashwi, whose RJD emerged the single largest party with highest 75 seats.
How soon Nitish plays his cards and parts company with the BJP is anybody’s guess as it would depend on how his ally bargains in dealing with him in the changed equations. He had more numbers than the BJP in the outgoing Assembly, with 71 seats as against the BJP’s 53 and he used this effectively to keep the BJP’s Dy CM Sushil Kumar Modi under check.
Even in 2015, Nitish formed the government in alliance with RJD and Congress, but ended the 20-month-long coalition of the grand alliance in July 2017 to stitch a new alliance with the BJP and run the new coalition government for rest of the term. The JD-U sources say if Nitish could run his show with the RJD when its supremo Lalu Yadav was in command, it will be a cakewalk for him to handle Tejashwi, a ‘novice’ in politics before him.
So far, Nitish is going by the BJP feelers to make him the CM as agreed before the election and as reendorsed by the PM after the results. He finds no problem in being part of the NDA so long as the BJP does not pressure him. All the four NDA partners — BJP, JD-U, Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) of former CM Jiten Ram Manjhi — are slated to meet in Patna on Sunday to formally elect Nitish as its leader and Sushil Modi his deputy.
VIP and HAM have bagged 4 seats each to give the NDA a clear majority of 125 seats in a House of 243. In an informal meeting of the NDA partners in Patna on Friday, a final decision was taken to keep out the LJP that deserted NDA on the eve of the election and contested on its own. Though LJP won only 1 seat, it did damage 18 to 20 seats of the JD-U. Nitish suspects it was propped up by the BJP to cut into his JD-U votes as it did not field candidates on the seats contested by the BJP.
Ruckus at Bihar CLP meet called to elect new leader
Bihar Congress legislature Party (CLP) meet in Patna on Friday witnessed ruckus as supporters of 2 MLAs resorted to pushing and shoving over selecting the new leader. Congress called a meet of all its 19 newly-elected MLAs at Sadaqat Ashram to elect the legislature party leader. 17 MLAs were present. Supporters of Siddharth Singh, who won from Bikram seat and Vijay Shankar Dubey, ex-minister from Maharajganj, resorted to sloganeering and pushing. They demanded their leader be elected. Senior leaders intervened and resolved the issue. Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel was present as central observer. Cong appointed Ajit Sharma, MLA from Bhagalpur, as the new chief of its CLP in Bihar.