Ahead of Bihar Assembly election, signs of rift between BJP and JD(U)

Ahead of Bihar Assembly election, signs of rift between BJP and JD(U)
Nitish Kumar (File)
New Delhi, Sep 10 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 9/10/2019 11:05:48 AM IST

Several signs of friction have been observed between the BJP and its key NDA ally the Janata Dal (United) in recent times—to the extent that the BJP might be preparing for a life without the Nitish Kumar-led party in Bihar, reports Tribune News Service.

The tension has escalated with a statement by senior BJP leader Sanjay Paswan that it was time that the JD(U) make way for a BJP CM in the state. The remarks have not gone down well with the JD(U) leadership. It comes at a time when the JD(U) has already decided to go solo in the upcoming Jharkhand Assembly polls—without the BJP which is in power in the state.  

JD(U) leaders said they would be contesting “as many as seats as possible” in Jharkhand, depending upon the availability of “winnable” candidates. 

Although the JD(U) has always contested Jharkhand alone, this time there seems to be a difference—it aims to increase its vote share to secure the status of a national party. The presence of master poll strategist Prashant Kishor in the party as the national vice president has added to its oomph and speculations that JD(U) wants to make a mark on the national level.

Meanwhile, in Bihar the JD(U) is also pushing for Kumar to be the “face” of  the NDA campaign in Assembly polls slated next year. The BJP, however, wants an “equal number of seats”— the same formula the two allies had followed in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Apparently, the state BJP also believes that this time the CM should be from their party. Though the national leadership is of the opinion that the NDA alliance should stay and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kumar can jointly be the “face” of the Bihar campaign. 

Notably, the two had contested separately in 2015 after Kumar had walked out of the NDA over the elevation of Modi, then Gujarat CM, to the national level in 2013. 

The BJP, which won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with a significant margin, failed to repeat the magic in the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections. 

 While the posturing continues, so far there has been no formal discussions on state elections amongst the two parties. Everyone is, however, doing individual spadework for the polls slated next year. Another NDA ally, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan- led LJP, is also clamouring for a “respectable” number of seats.

Speculation is also rife that kin of the ailing Lalu Prasad, the chief of the RJD, could join the BJP, which is clearly in a better position in Bihar now than it was in 2015. 

So far BJP managers are busy with Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand and expected to turn their attention to Delhi and Bihar after the organisational poll process is over around December. Kumar, meanwhile, is planning to visit every district of Bihar, at least once, before the Assembly elections to take stock of his government’s development projects and to meet their beneficiaries. 

With the opposition, the RJD, the Congress down and out in Bihar, the task of his poll strategists has become much easier.

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