As the Bihar elections come near, the tension rises at 1 Anne Marg, Patna, the official residence of CM Nitish Kumar. The perennial figure of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), he faces stiff competition not from the Mahagathbandhan, instead from the power dynamics within the alliance. Chirag Paswan, the National President of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), has expressed his apprehensions over the Chief Ministership of Nitish Kumar.
He has been able to corner the Bihar government over the migrant issue, Bihar floods and rampant Corona crisis. The party called a meeting of MPs in Delhi which was meant to discredit the leadership of Nitish Kumar. Chirag Paswan wrote a letter to PM Modi, raising their concerns. The LJP for the past few months have shown their allegiance to BJP, not to the JDU. This may have vexed Nitish Kumar. Equally, the JDU has tried to vociferously counter the LJPs narratives with Sushashan Babu’s (Nitish Kumar) 15 years rule.
As Bihar advances for a new face, Chirag might be looking for his ground for the future. An early attempt to guess the future is what Chirag is looking for. The father-son duo has been able to develop pockets in Bihar. Chirag’s bargaining voice in the alliance may bring a good omen for the BJP in Bihar.
It is not that the BJP is tacit to the whole power struggle. Since past, it has acted in leveraging the power strife between Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan, and now also. The weakening of the JDU will in turn help the BJP leverage the NDA ultimately. BJP has tried to undermine the old guards in Bihar, be it Sushil Kumar Modi or Nand Kishore Yadav. And then giving the new generation politicians, Nityanand Rai and Sanjaya Jaiswal a free hand in Bihar.
It doesn’t matter how many times Amit Shah recalls the leadership of Nitish Kumar, the implicitness of the BJP is visible to everyone. JP Nadda and the BJP Bihar-in-charge Devendra Fadnavis are vocal about the Atma Nirbhar Bihar worth Rs 20,050 crores, the PM-Matasya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), the high fiscal smokescreen, neglecting the 15 years rule campaign.
The old vanguard of the BJP in Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, has always been on the side of Nitish Kumar. The understanding of both dates back to the time when both were involved in student’s politics. In 2017, while Sushil Modi was confronting the Mahagathbandhan on the corruption charges of IRCTC, he was at peace with Nitish Kumar. In 2013–14, when BJP announced Narendra Modi as the PM candidate, the opposition came from Nitish Kumar. Nitish gave a statement, “In Bihar there is only one Modi, and no need of another Modi.“
The camaraderie of both is a cause of worry for the BJP, and soon Sushil Modi can be seen in the centre. Nityanand Rai, the BJPs OBC face from Vaishali, the bastion of Lalu Yadav and Sanjay Jaiswal, State President, are at the forefront of this election. Amit Shah has a history of backing the new generation leaders and refreshing the BJP.
Adding further dilemmas in the alliance, BJP has flagged off its Bihar task with rank and files at the Panchayat Level in all 243 seats. Fadnavis and the new generation are of the view that the BJP and JDU should be equivalent in power-sharing. The JDU, in comparison to BJP’s ground-level engagement is way back. This leads to a very obnoxious position amongst the alliance causing vulnerability in the JDU pavilion. The LJPs downplaying and constant strikes make ample ground for the BJP for a 50–50 formula in seat-sharing or maybe a new face for the chairmanship.
BJP is wary of the alliance as the discord might lead to a repetition of Maharashtra and Jharkhand. A three-party alliance gives an advantage to the BJP. It puts it ahead in role-playing activity, in contrast to the two-party alliance in Maharashtra or naively ignoring the AJSU in Jharkhand. BJP is conscious of Nitish’s vacillation. The past has shown that Nitish doesn’t succumb to pressure and vicious attacks and can easily incline towards the Mahagathbandhan.
For the past 15 years, Nitish Kumar’s perspicacious insight and withhold in Bihar has now left the nuances to subtlety visible. Notwithstanding, Nitish Kumar’s self-aggrandisement is still the only option for the JDU. The recent reshuffle and the 8 MLAs of the RJD and Congress joining the JDU can solace the party. The soft tone of Ram Vilas Paswan may tame down Chirag Paswan. However, only time can tell how much Sushashan Babu can govern and discern the alliance.