The 2019 Lok Sabha election result declaration unleashed deep discomfort in some manner, that prevailed both, in camps of the five-party Mahagathbandhan, and the three-party National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Tasting defeat or victory in the Lok Sabha polls may have a long-lasting effect in terms of social perception and results but never remains the same, as an alliance of political parties come into the picture.
Shattered dreams of the of a grand alliance headed by Laloo Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of defeating the trio of Modi-Nitish-Paswan brought such humiliation, that instead of introspection, constituents of the alliance got into bitter heated talks. The prolonged absence of Laloo’s political heir Tejashwi Yadav raised eyebrows of his party leadership. Jitan Ram Manjhi and the Congress blamed Tejashwi’s electoral plan for the poll debacle. RLSP chief, Upendra Kushwaha was the exception for not engaging in the blame-game.
In the ruling camp of NDA, all was not well, even after a sweeping victory, as Nitish Kumar’s JDU opted to remain out of the cabinet due to marginal representation of the JDU in Modi Government 2.0. This created subtle chaos in state alliance. Just like Kushwaha, Ram Vilas Paswan was also tight-lipped post a massive victory but that was just a start for abnormalities.
The next level challenge for both camps is the upcoming assembly elections in 2020. Post the dust biting defeat of the RJD, supporters and leadership of lantern are pitching hard for party leader Tejashwi Yadav as the leader of the Mahagathbandhan in 2020 assembly polls but alliance partners like Jitan Ram Manjhi led HAM (Secular) and Congress did not pay heed to the one-sided declaration.
Rather, Manjhi attempted to put himself in shoes of a leader of the Mahagathbandhan. A big dilemma sustains inside the RJD over an alliance with Nitish Kumar. One faction led by veterans is found batting for Nitish. Senior RJD leaders, like former MPs Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, and Shivanand Tiwary, have been advocating for a need to bring JDU back into the grand alliance over the last few months. But Tejashwi Yadav, while addressing the media on Saturday, ruled out any alliance of his party with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JDU ahead of the assembly polls due next year; setting at rest all speculation about a tie-up, some of them triggered by his own party leaders.
Presently, the JDU and BJP are in undeclared loggerhead over the state’s Chief Ministerial candidate, although bugles of ‘All is Well’ are being blown by leaders from either side; but cracks are visible. Bihar’s deputy chief minister and BJP leader, Sushil Modi is known to be a favourite of Nitish Kumar; this has not gone down well with BJP’s Bihar leadership in last few years, especially with the upper caste leaders lobby headed Dr. C.P.Thakur, Giriraj Singh, etc. The indifference was more visible a week ago after BJP MLC Sanjay Paswan’s statement on Nitish Kumar to quit chief ministership and enter national politics created turbulence in the ruling NDA alliance.
To its counter, Sushil Modi came up with a tweet saying – “Nitish Kumar is the captain of NDA in Bihar and will remain its captain in next assembly elections in 2020 also.” But fresh moves of Ram Vilas Paswan brought a further twist to the alliance tale, indicating a tough tug of war within the NDA partners. In an interview to The Hindu, Ram Vilas Paswan added an instant twist to JDU-BJP dissatisfactory proxy war by saying that, Nitish Kumar is our captain and he will continue unless if the BJP decides to bring in a different Captain.
In conversation with JDU spokesperson, Neeraj Kumar (also a minister in Bihar government), said that there is absolutely no rift within the ruling alliance of the NDA. JDU and BJP came together 2017 on issues of zero tolerance to corruption and Saat Nischay Yojna Scheme (Seven commitment) without any dispute on leadership. If at all confusion lays on recent statement’s on Nitish Kumar’s chief ministerial candidature, Sushil Modi’s standpoint must be solely taken into account as he is the official face of the government and also the leader of the legislature party. Keeping aside clarifications of the NDA alliance leaders, the underlying strategy of the BJP remains to test waters for chief minister’s face for the NDA and it was done through the statement by Sanjay Paswan (not known for creating controversies on alliance issues). This could not have been possible without a nod of the top leadership in Delhi and subsequently, Ram Vilas Paswan’s standpoint inclined to the BJP depicts an unwary tale of the ruling NDA camp.
Insiders of both the BJP and JDU are also planning to have separate manifestos for assembly polls as Nitish Kumar in the past declared the party’s no agreement on Modi government’s act of scrapping article 370 and triple talaq. This may lead to fighting the polls together but with different manifestos. Though leaders of both Mahagathbandhan and NDA are trying hard to end rumours on the rift within and on new allying equations. Sunday’s press conference at the state capital became a chance for the opposition to show off its unity, clearing the air over differences, simultaneously declaring entry of Nitish Kumar back in the fold if he snubs ties with the BJP is a contrarian to Tejashwi Yadav’s statement.
This reflects the bewildered alliances in Bihar. Uncertain decision making in existing alliances indicates a topsy-turvy trend in Bihar’s political landscape, bound to add more suspense and interest in coming times. But can Bihar’s electorate afford to elect a single-party government rejecting the coalition government? Or will a new alliance come to fray? These remain the last questions that still remain unanswered.