Tough road ahead for Nitish

The incumbent chief minister is fighting with “the enemies” within his own party

Ashraf Shagil

Patna: Growing dissention in the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) could prove fatal for Nitish Kumar in the coming elections. Already upset with the BJP’s bonhomie with top leaders of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), the incumbent chief minister is fighting with “the enemies” within his own party, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U).

However, the BJP and the JD-U leaders publicly rub shoulders to show unity within the NDA and have expelled several leaders also to “rebuild the trust” diminished after the LJP announced to field candidates only against the JD-U. Several top leadership of the JD-U and analysts see the move as “BJP’s ploy” to make Nitish a “dispensable figure”. Instead of engaging with people ahead of elections, both the parties are cautiously monitoring the movement of their leaders. Political commentators believe that the BJP finds itself in “win win situation”.

The saffron party has been  working for years to “attain eventual control” and it finds in LJP president Chirag Paswan “an effective ‘foil’ for the ‘egoist’ and ‘crafty’ Nitish, writes Nalin Verma, who has written Lalu Prasad Yadav’s biography, in The Wire. Verma further adds, “And Chirag – guided by the feeling that Nitish has always worked to mitigate the existence of the LJP – has no qualms in weakening the Bihar CM.”

No doubt, LJP’s decision to go against Nitish is rooted more in the manner Nitish treated the Ramvilas Paswan’s party over the years. Nitish has been accused of breaking the LJP by creating a separate category of lower castes, Mahadalit”. The Mahadalit” vote bloc comprised 2s Dalit castes but not the Paswans, LJP’s core constituency.

Notably, in 2005 elections when the LJP had won 29 seats, Nitish allegedly conspired to break LJP. It is said that Nitish befriended pharmaceutical baron Mahendra Prasad from Jehanabad, one of the richest men in Bihar, and got his financial assistance to break the LJP. Nitish split the LJP and was able to oversee the defection of 22 of its 29 MLAs to the JD-U, writes Verma.

It is a fact that Nitish lost goodwill after he re-joined the Modi-Shah-led BJP in 2017 reportedly to save his skin in the Rs 2,000 crore Srijan scam. The case was overtaken by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He then decided to join hands with the BJP despite he had categorially said in the legislative assembly that he would not join hands with the saffron party “under any circumstance.” But it is believed that Nitish could take yet another turn.  He may dump the BJP again and join hands with Congress.

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