The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Monday was quick to point out that “politics in Bihar has moved beyond Nitish Kumar” even as the Chief Minister told his ally, the BJP, that theirs is a regional and not a national coalition.
The JD(U)’s main rival underlined that Nitish Kumar is “positioning” to bargain for more seats for his party in his coalition with the BJP because he is “insecure”.
While Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son and current leader of the RJD, Tejaswi Yadav, has kept up a flurry of tweets to highlight that Kumar has lost his grip over Bihar administration and political credibility, the party spokesperson in Delhi, Manoj Kumar Jha, told BusinessLine, “Politics in Bihar has moved beyond Nitish Kumar. People in the State no longer care why he ditched their mandate and administration is in doldrums.”
According to Jha, Nitish Kumar does not have any politics options and is “now at the mercy of the BJP”. “Through a series of meetings and statements, the point is being made that he is still politically relevant while it is clear to the people of Bihar that the ground has shifted,” said Jha.
While there were reports — mostly emanating from with the JD(U) — that Nitish Kumar may float a separate front, the Chief Minister dismissed reports of any “rift” between his Janata Dal (United) and the BJP over sharing of seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. At the same time, he took pains to assert that his party’s alliance with the BJP was “only limited to Bihar”, a reason why the JD(U) had been fielding candidates in a number of States against the BJP. “I am sitting here alongside (Deputy Chief Minister) Sushil Kumar Modi. It is amply clear that the government is functioning well and there is no problem between the two parties,” the CM told reporters on the sidelines of his weekly public interaction programme Lok Samvad in Patna.
The BJP-led NDA had won 31 out of 40 seats in Bihar in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 – 22 seats were won by the BJP alone, three by Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) led by Upendra Kushwaha and six by Ramvilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party. With the addition of Nitish Kumar in the NDA, there is question about distribution of seats in Bihar — especially when the perception is that the main contest is between the RJD and the BJP.
In this context, there have been several reports and pronouncements about Nitish Kumar himself about how it is he and not the BJP which is “Big Brother” in Bihar.
Alliance confined to Bihar
The CM was careful in answering questions but he did point out that the JD(U)’s alliance with the BJP is restricted to Bihar. Kumar also confirmed that a meeting with BJP president Amit Shah, who is scheduled to visit the Bihar capital on July 12, was on the cards. Though, he did not elaborate what was likely to be the agenda. Asked about the JD(U)’s recent announcement to contest the upcoming Assembly polls in a number of States, including BJP-ruled ones like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Kumar said it was done in the past too.
“We have done so in the past. We fought and won a seat in Nagaland (in February this year). We contested in Karnataka (in May last) where our party unit comprises a number of leaders with socialist background. This creates no problems or confusion as it has always been our stated position that the alliance between JD(U) and BJP is limited to Bihar,” Nitish Kumar said.