The 17-year-old alliance between the BJP and Janata Dal (U) appears to be headed towards a split that is likely to have ramifications for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
After the power equations within the BJP changed with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi assuming a greater role and senior leader L K Advani quitting party posts and later withdrawing his resignation, the ties between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners have been strained.
The JD(U) that plays the ‘secular card’ to keep its vote bank intact in Bihar is opposed to Modi becoming the prime ministerial candidate. As Modi was anointed chairman of election campaign committee during the BJP’s National Executive meeting in Goa, the Gujarat CM has become the face of the party. Now, as both partners are headed towards a messy divorce, there will not be much challenge left to Modi becoming the prime ministerial candidate.
The formal announcement on the split may happen over the weekend. Bihar CM and Janata Dal (U) leader Nitish Kumar, who is on a two-day Sewa Yatra, has urged all of his party MLAs and MLCs to be present in Patna on Friday and Saturday when he is likely to make the formal announcement for severing the ties with the BJP. Party president Sharad Yadav too will travel to Patna.
With 118 MLAs, JD (U) needs just four more MLAs to attain a simple majority in the 243-seat Bihar Assembly. According to sources two independent MLAs — Pawan Kumar Jaiswal and Binay Bihari — have already confirmed their support. The BJP has 91 MLAs, RJD 22, Congress four, while there are six independents in the Assembly.
On a day of hectic political developments, Advani, who is also the working chairperson of the NDA, called JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar on Wednesday asking them to continue in the alliance.
JD (U) leader and Bihar CM’s confidante Shivanand Tewari articulated what was on their minds. “L K Advani is a very senior leader, but his stature has been reduced. His phase is over and he is at an age where he should retire... Now that things are clear, we’ll take a final call in a day or two,” Tewari said referring to Modi’s elevation, and the strain on the ties.
The BJP, which has been preparing itself for long for the severance of ties, is in no mood to let Brand Modi suffer to keep its alliance afloat.
The BJP reminded Nitish Kumar that he was in power as mandate was for the NDA and not just him. Both the parties were elected to power in 2005 and again in 2010.