A Bharatiya Janata Party leader in Bihar threw a cat among pigeons by suggesting it was time for Nitish Kumar to graduate to national politics and allow a second line leader to occupy the chief minister post.
A former union minister, Sanjay Paswan is currently a BJP member in the Bihar legislative assembly and his words should, ideally, have been taken seriously. But the BJP was quick to dismiss his suggestion as a personal remark. The JD(U) too is fuming.
What Paswan said laid bare the long cherished dream of the BJP to have it own chief minister in Bihar. It is today the most dominant force in Bihar, and no more a junior partner to Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United).
Subsequent Lok Sabha elections proved that the BJP has grown in size and has conquered new territories that otherwise were seen as stronghold of either the JDU or Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad.
The BJP has been able to change from being a party of upper castes to now representing a wider social equation, including the most backward communities and a section of Dalits too. This transformation has helped the BJP limit the influence of RJD and even smaller caste based political parties, who would win a few seats in assembly election and emerge important players in a hung house.
That way, the BJP may be well within its rights to seek a claim to the chief minister’s post. But the problem also lies in the complex social character of Bihar where BJP, RJD and the JDU remain three major political groups.Any two parties who come together defeats the third.
When the BJP and JDU forged an alliance it defeated Lalu Prasad and won two consecutive elections in 2005 and 2010. When JDU and RJD came together in 2015, it halted the march of Narendra Modi’s BJP.
But the BJP is worried about what it feels is a sense of fatigue among local population. It feels that Nitish Kumar has been able to deliver in last 15 years, but has nothing more to offer in next five years. That can give certain advantage to rivals. Nitish Kumar performance on the law and order front too has been dismal in last couple of years.
But, no matter how much ambitious the BJP gets in Bihar, it will still need Nitish Kumar, who is undoubtedly the most prominent OBC face of Bihar, to get electoral victory. Nitish Kumar ability to strike a chord with the upper castes too is an advantage.
Nitish too would like to win one more election and serve as chief minister of Bihar for another 5 years. The BJP may have no choice but to wait for a while before it can think of occupying the CM’s chair.
Sep 12, 2019 09:00 IST