All is not well between the BJP and Janata Dal (United), the two parties running the coalition government in Bihar. The BJP is the larger of the two parties with more MLAs in the state Assembly but had to give the post of chief minister to the JDU's Nitish Kumar who was the face of their alliance - the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) - in the elections. The BJP’s unease over letting the junior partner run the show comes out time and again in statements and public spats between the two parties.
The latest instance of the not-so-happy relationship between the alliance partners was the floating of Nitish Kumar's name for Vice-Presidentship of India, the election for which is scheduled to be held in July this year.
The BJP is keen on taking over the leadership of the alliance in Bihar. That is not possible unless Nitish Kumar relinquishes the post of chief minister. Nitish is in no mood to move out of the state. Definitely not for vice-presidentship. But that doesn't stop the BJP from making indirect offers.
The party knows that asking Nitish to step down from the chair of chief minister would send him straight into the arms of the opposition, thereby causing the fall of the NDA government. It, therefore, resorts to making indirect offers with the hope that one of them may catch Nitish's fancy.
But like the ones before, the latest attempt to lure Nitish out of the state has been met with resolute refusal to budge. Nitish Kumar's confidant and Bihar minister Sanjay Jha reacted angrily to reports that the CM would move out of the state.
In a series of tweets, Jha termed the reports mischievous and far from the truth. He said Nitish Kumar was the face of the NDA in 2020 Assembly polls and he will complete his full term. He asked those who were indulging in the propaganda to desist from it, and said it would yield little.
The proxy war between allies is likely to continue; the BJP may continue to rock the boat in Bihar but is unlikely to take any decisive action. This is because the party's central leadership is focused more on the
2024 Lok Sabha elections in which Nitish will play a critical role in delivering Bihar to the NDA kitty.