Ties between the BJP and its ally JD(U) have come under scanner following the latter’s top leadership asserting that the party is aiming at making a comeback as the largest political force in the state.
JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan is said to have told some media outlets a couple of days ago that his party was working towards reclaiming its status as the numero uno in the state and undoing the setback it received in the 2020 assembly polls, which he blamed on a “conspiracy”.
The allusion was to the “brinkmanship” of Chirag Paswan, who then headed the Lok Janshakti Party and fielded candidates against all JD(U) nominees, many of them BJP rebels, and the chief minister’s party saw its tally crash to 43 from 71 five years earlier.
The JD(U) leader’s comments have unleashed a storm in a teacup in this highly politicised state with RJD spokesman Mrityunjay Tiwari chuckling “big trouble is brewing in the NDA. Its boat will sink in the floods that the rainy season brings.” Tiwari for his part believes that Nitish Kumar, with his “Samajwadi” (socialist) background, will not be able to withstand the BJP’s “Hindutva agenda”.
He, however, became guarded when asked whether there seemed to be a possibility of yet another realignment between the JD(U) and the RJD, which had joined hands ahead of the 2015 assembly polls and parted ways two years later but not before inflicting a crushing defeat on the BJP at the hustings.
“I can only say that Bihar needs, and will get sooner rather than later, a Samajwadi government and the people are seeing new hope in Tejashwi Yadav. It is too early to say what will be the composition of such a government”, the RJD spokesman Lalan is said to have made the remarks in response to queries about the BJP’s recent assertion that it looked forward to contest the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and the assembly elections a year later under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, a gesture apparently aimed at pacifying the JD(U) which has been sour over the saffron party’s domineering stance.
“Who has seen tomorrow? (kal kisne dekha hai). We are at present working on making the party number one again. 2024 and 2025 are far away. We must regain the ground we had lost because of a conspiracy in the last assembly polls,” Lalan has been reported as having said.
Among the oldest associates of the Bihar CM, Lalan has since left for Delhi to attend the ongoing Parliament session, causing fresh turmoil back home.
However, the JD(U)’s chief spokesman Neeraj Kumar said his party had a “clear conscience” and that he was bewildered to see “needless” averments on part of the BJP.
“This is 2022. What is the purpose of discussing 2024 and 2025 right now? The leadership of Nitish Kumar has never been questioned in the NDA. Why is the BJP making assertions which have no need,” asked the JD(U) spokesman.
He was referring to the statement by BJP national general secretary Arun Singh here last week at a media briefing after a two-day function which was attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The JD(U) spokesman and MLC, who is considered close to Lalan, was also asked about the “conspiracy” remark by the party chief.
“That is a fact. Even the LJP rank and file realised it, a reason why most leaders of the party broke away with Chirag Paswan,” Neeraj said.
He was also asked whether the JD(U) felt slighted as Chirag was recently invited to an NDA meeting ahead of the presidential polls.
“That does not matter. His uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, who raised the banner of revolt against him, is a respected member of the Union cabinet,” the JD(U) leader pointed out.
Meanwhile, the BJP appeared to be in no mood, as of now, to engage in a spat with its oldest ally.
“Our ties have been with Nitish Kumar and these go back to 1996 when his party was called Samata Party. We do not pay much attention to what others in his party say,” state BJP spokesman Prem Ranjan Patel said.
The BJP has always regarded Nitish Kumar as the NDA’s leader in Bihar, he stated.
“Please remember that after the last assembly polls, the CM was dejected and willing to step down but we insisted that he continue for another term in office since we had promised to the people of Bihar that he would be our leader no matter which party wins how many seats,” Patel pointed out.
“Our leader, nationally, is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in the state it is the chief minister. So we reiterate that we will contest the Lok Sabha polls in alliance with Nitish Kumar’s party and fight the assembly elections under his leadership,” he added.