With the formal announcement of the JD(U)severing its ties with the BJP-led NDA expected on Sunday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s gamble is set to change the political arithmetic of not just the state, but it would have repercussions on the political equations in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Interestingly, the Bihar BJP leaders are of the view that a split with the JD(U) may actually help the saffron party gain more seats in the state. With Gujarat CM Narendra Modi likely to campaign in the state, they feel it would help them improve their tally.
“Winning elections mean weaving strategies and reaching out to the people. During the last elections, the mandate was for the NDA, but it was our party that worked at the grassroots (level). Unlike the JD(U), the BJP, with its cadre strength, has a reach right up to the booth-level,” a senior BJP leader said. According to him, Nitish had been taking credit for all the good work done by the BJP ministers in his Cabinet.
Meanwhile, the BJP members in the Nitish ministry have already stopped attending office. Not only that, they even spurned the CM’s offer to meet them on Saturday.
“The government was formed as the people voted for both the parties. It was purely in the interest of the people of Bihar that the alliance should continue,” BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said in Patna.
Prasad added that “Modi is a popular leader”, thus sending a clear message that the BJP was not ready for a compromise on the issue.
The RSS also commented on the dissonance between the NDA allies saying that the JD(U) move to get the BJP to toe its line on the Modi issue did not augur well for the country. And the Sangh said the NDA alliance should continue.
An editorial in the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, said the BJP has only declared Modi as chairman of a forum and not as its Prime Ministerial candidate.
“ Clearly, the question of declaring the PM candidate does not arise at this moment as the polls have not yet been declared...There is sufficient time to declare a PM candidate and the decision will naturally be taken at an appropriate time after consultation with all the parties concerned,” it said.
Meanwhile, JD(U) leader Shivanand Tewari said the “announcement of the split was a mere formality”.
“Let it be clear once and for all that the BJP has forced the JD(U) to walk out of the alliance by not being forthcoming on Modi’s future role,” he said. The JD(U) believes that severing its ties with the BJP will help it to keep its minority vote bank intact. “If Nitish does not announce the split now, it may electorally harm him. Lalu and (Ram Vilas) Paswan are waiting to corner the minority votes,” a party leader said.RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said Nitish was on a losing wicket, as many JD(U) MLAs are waiting to switch allegiance. He also accused Nitish of trying to poach MLAs from other parties in order to survive.
Helping Hand from Congress
If Lalu targeted Nitish, the Congress was quick to extend a helping hand to the JD(U). “The JDU is a like-minded party which has faith in secularism. It is in alliance with a party with which its ideology does not match,” party spokesman Bhakta Charan Das said on Sunday.
In Saturday’s other related developments, CPM chief Prakash Karat and TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu spoke to JD(U) president Sharad Yadav.