Split from BJP will Ccost Nitish Kumar dearly
As the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar gets ready to prove his majority in the assembly after the split of 17-year-old alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the nation eagerly watches the course of events that will follow. It’s an open secret that Nitish will comfortably correct his state math with the support of four independent legislators, with the possibility of getting prop up from CPI and Congress. The JD-U already has 118 MLAs and with the support of four of the six independent MLAs, Nitish Kumar will secure the magic figure of 122 in the 243-member assembly and save his government. The four of the six independent MLAs who have pledged their support to Nitish Kumar are Pawan Kumar Jaisawal, Som Prakash Singh, Vinay Bihari and Dulal Chandra Goswami.
There is no doubt that Nitish Kumar-ruled JD(U) will prove its majority in the Bihar assembly, but will he be able to run the new coalition government smoothly and ‘adamantly’ with four new partners, as it was running before the divorce from the BJP on the issue of Narendra Modi’s elevation? When Nitish Kumar assumed on 24 November 2005 with the support of BJP, a ray of hope has glimmered amongst the masses of Bihar, living as they were in the dark ages under the RJD regime.
The mandate given to NDA was to change the dented image of the state on the national map as well as at the global level. Challenges were many for the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government. The government too started acting as per the mood of the masses and began the process of eradicating bad elements that had mushroomed during Lalu’s reign.
First of all, the Nitish-led government took the pain to better the uncontrolled law and order situation in the state by weaning out hardcore anti-social elements such as Shahabuddin, Munna Shukla, Rajan Tiwari, Sunil Pandey, among others. It also shunned the practice of using muscle power in Bihar and even shunted its own legislators who were tarnishing the clean image of the alliance. BJP also supported every decision of the government – whether half-heartedly or forcefully. Although some BJP legislators tried to raise their heads against the ill-decisions of Nitish Kumar that were directly affecting the masses in general and their vote bank in particular, the state BJP paid no heed to their demands and called them as ‘errant’ legislators.
However, since the BJP is no more in the government and the alliance, will it pose a threat for Nitish Kumar? Will BJP dare to bring out scams in public? Hopefully not, as it may dent its own image. How then will BJP deal with Nitish government in the assembly and in public while occupying the opposition chair? Will unruly scenes in the Bihar assembly become the order of the day during house sessions?
The breakup was imminent, but it took too long to surface. The instance of cancelation of lunch of senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani in 2010, could be seen as the time when BJP might have thought of getting rid of the ‘arrogant’ Nitish Kumar. A few BJP ministers were feeling suffocated in the JD(U) government, having no major say in the policy formation for their own departments. Probably, they are happy after the separation as now they have the opportunity to stretch their wings and put Nitish Kumar in the dock with their volley of questions.
The incident of seat sharing during 2010 assembly polls makes it more clear how BJP bowed down to the demands of JD(U). One such seat over which the then BJP state unit president C P Thakur had threatened to resign from the Digha assembly constituency. This was purely BJP seat carved out after the delimitation of Patna West. JD(U) wanted to field its candidate from this seat, but BJP has reservations. But, even after the interference of senior BJP leaders, Nitish Kumar was firm on his demand and at last BJP surrendered before him. The saffron party is bound to pose a great threat for the JD(U) government as Nitish will now face a strong opposition in his second term in office. With the BJP’s taking over the mantle of the opposition with 91 MLAs, it will add to the din and rumble in the House, which was so far smooth sailing.
Nitish will surely miss the numbers for the now-defunct NDA that had about four-fifth majority in the assembly. As Lalu’s RJD stands grossly outnumbered with only 22 members, Congress counts for four, whereas CPI and LJP have one each, along with six independents, it is the BJP that will rule the roost in terms of a strong opposition.
Ejected as deputy CM, a seething Sushil Kumar Modi has already committed to avenge this vishwasghaat (betrayal). The BJP has several vocal leaders widely recognised as outstanding legislators. Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Nand Kishore Yadav, both Nitish Kumar’s contemporaries, had earned reputations as no-nonsense opposition members in the assembly during Lalu-Rabri regime. Veteran BJP leader Chandra Mohan Rai, too, is an experienced speaker. Sushil Modi is a member of the legislative council.
It is likely that in the council, Modi and Giriraj Singh will function as the main opposition speakers. Modi had already been the leader of the opposition during the Lalu-Rabri regime. Nitish, who is also a member of the council, is bound to attract serious flak from an embittered BJP.
The current leader of the opposition, RJD’s Abdul Bari Siddiqui, has opined that the government would find it tough to pass important bills. With increased opposition strength, the minority government may lurch from crisis to crisis.