PATNA: Assembly election in Bihar is a year away but Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JD-(U) has unwittingly set off a political war, which it is now finding difficult to quell.
As his party colleagues threw bouncers at the CM, senior BJP leader and Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi on Wednesday came forward to bat for “Captain” Nitish saying there should be no talk of replacing him when he was “hitting 4&6”.
It all started with a series of posters the JD(U) went to town with, suggesting there is ‘no alternative to Kumar’. “Kyun kare vichar, thike to hai Nitish Kumar (Why should we consider an alternative, isn’t Nitish Kumar okay)?” was the slogan, which set up the wild fire.
The use of the word ‘okay’ spurred the Opposition to fire the first salvo as to ‘why Bihar should just have an okay CM.’ It forced the JD(U) to hurriedly replace its posters with a new slogan “kyu kare vichar, jab hai hi Nitish Kumar (Why should we consider an alternative when Nitish is there).”
The posters brought the fissures in the NDA alliance on the surface. First, Union minister Giriraj Singh demanded that he be considered for the CM’s post, though he retracted soon after. And on Tuesday, former Union minister Sanjay Paswan advised Kumar to step down in favour of the BJP and look for a job at the Centre.
Rushing to Kumar’s rescue, Modi tweeted: “Nitish Kumar is the captain of NDA in Bihar and will remain its captain in next assembly elections in 2020 also. When Captain is hitting 4&6& defeating rivals by innings where is the Q of any change.”
However, JD(U) insiders believe attacks from within the alliance cannot be without concurrence of top BJP leaders.
Many in the BJP suggest the party would be better off fighting the polls alone banking on the PM’s popularity. “Why should Kumar even suggest that he should remain CM if the NDA wins next time? It shows his restlessness. The BJP is now seen to have the upper hand in Bihar,” said a senior BJP leader.