NEW DELHI: Jitan Ram Manjhi gave up the fight just before it started, giving his mentor-turned-opponent Nitish Kumar an easy walkover, which left the BJP a deeply disappointed lot.
The sudden twist in the tale, BJP insiders confessed, will make their task that much more tough in taking on the Nitish-Lalu Prasad combine, who now will have another eight months before elections are due.
Ironically, the BJP had its weight behind Manjhi, even openly declaring support for him, a day ahead of the trust vote.
“We have not lost anything. We stand to gain the Mahadalit votes as Manjhi has been ousted. His caste votes would consolidate in his favour. He may have resigned early fearing ruckus and violence inside the house,” a senior BJP leader said here.
The BJP tried to insulate itself from the political fallout, saying it was a fight within the JD (U) that led to the Constitutional crisis. The BJP was forced to change its position several times so as not to be seen as a destabilising force in the state.
However, the BJP was still non-committal on whether Manjhi would join the saffron party or float his own party to retain his vote bank. “There has been no discussion in the party,” the senior leader added.
Meanwhile, BJP chief Amit Shah has called a meeting of the party’s core group on Saturday. The issue of Bihar and government formation in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be discussed.
The Bihar situation is likely to play out in two ways in the coming days. With Nitish’s return, it may see a consolidation of the anti-BJP front, which will manifest itself in the upcoming Budget Session. On the other hand, the BJP will have a hard time fighting the perception that it was not able to form the government in two states -- Delhi and Bihar. Internally, the BJP is hoping that Mahadalit caste consolidation in favour of Manjhi may favour the party so that it can counter the caste consolidation following the JD(U) and RJD alliance.