Back with BJP: Nitish Kumar.
Back with BJP: Nitish Kumar.

How BJP worked for Nitish’s ‘ghar wapsi’

Assembly poll victory in three Hindi states late last year propelled saffron camp to launch ‘final’ action plan in Bihar.

NEW DELHI: The BJP’s top secret ‘Mission-Bihar-2024’ to get Nitish Kumar to swear in so that the National Democratic Alliance is back to rule the state — six days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first mega rally of the year in Bihar — was crafted about a year back.

BJP sources told this newspaper that the execution of the plan gathered pace after victories in the three Hindi heartland states, namely Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

“A team of senior BJP leaders worked meticulously while keeping confidentiality. Senior JD(U) leader Sanjay Jha, who was also close to late Arun Jaitley and currently considered a close confidante of Nitish Kumar, remained in touch with the BJP as the party got cracking on the plan,” said a senior BJP leader. “It took about 45 days for the plan to come to fruition,” he said.

Once the BJP leadership green-lighted the plan, Jha, as new deputy CM Samrat Chaudhary said on Sunday, moved ahead with the proposal for Nitish Kumar’s ‘ghar vapasi’. The saffron party’s Mission Bihar, which was planned five months after Nitish deserted NDA, had a well-crafted script in which BJP kept mounting attacks on Nitish and RJD chief Lalu Prasad over governance issues almost throughout the year.

“We waited for the JD(U) initiative. When Lalu asked Rahul Gandhi during a meeting of the Opposition to get married and that he along with others would like to be his ‘baratis’, Nitish Kumar, a seasoned politician, sensed Lalu’s intention and turned cautious,” said a BJP source.

This was the first lead for BJP to step up the Mission Bihar momentum, knowing well that Nitish won’t swallow a small act of insult to what he thinks is right, said a Bihar BJP leader. The BJP and other JD(U) leaders continued negotiations. The second positive signal that came from the Nitish side was when Amit Shah went to Patna and chaired the 26th meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council on December 10. CM Nitish Kumar from the Grand Alliance cordially attended the meeting.

BJP knows Nitish Kumar continues to carry huge influence among 36% of the EBCs in the state. This is the vote share the BJP looked at as a part of its electoral strategy for the LS polls. Working silently, the Nitish’s ‘ghar-wapasi’ has rejuvenated the BJP’s state unit ahead of the LS polls. “The bonhomie between PM Modi and the CM will be re-exhibited before the people at the rally on February 4 in West Champaran,” said a JD(U) leader.

Not that RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his former deputy CM could not sense the game-plans, especially with the change of JD(U) president from Rajiv Ranjan Singh to Nitish Kumar. “With the passage of days, the entire game plan became clearer; the Bharat Ratna to Karpoori Thakur was a big hint. Nitish openly hailed the decision and thanked PM Modi in a tweet. The RJD leaders immediately shared their apprehension about Kumar’s somersault with Congress chief Kharge,” said a BJP source.

Sources said Nitish waited until the Ayodhya consecration. After getting inputs from various agencies including his party, it became clear to him that PM Modi has created a wave across the country and that a “boycott” of the event by the Opposition was a blunder.

“Kumar started exhibiting his annoyance with RJD. First, he removed three ministers of ‘RJD quota,’ including one who had passed a controversial statement on the Ramchartitmanas. The final decision for Nitish’s in-principle return to the NDA came on January 15. Days later, he made up his mind and conveyed it through his special emissary to the BJP. Sources said Nitush may get a national responsibility before the assembly polls in 2025. “The campaigning by Nitish Kumar along with Narendra Modi in the LS polls would also be finalised soon,” said an NDA source.

(By Rajesh Kumar Thakur)

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