Bihar NDA woes: Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) lashes out at BJP minister
CM Nitish Kumar’s party lashed out at BJP minister Ashwini Choubey for calling an FIR against the latter’s son Arijit Shashwat a ‘piece of garbage’, and demanded that Shashwat surrender immediately
Politics in Bihar plunged into a sort of uncertainty on Tuesday, March 27 after Janata Dal (United) national general secretary KC Tyagi denounced BJP Union Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey, for calling the FIR against his son Arijit Shashwat a "raddi ka tukra", or ‘piece of garbage’, lodged by “corrupt” officials of Bhagalpur. Demanding immediate surrender of Shashwat before the court, which has already issued a warrant of arrest, Tyagi said that such actions would have a detrimental impact on all the constituents of NDA in Bihar.
Reacting to Tyagi’s statement, which came exactly eight months after the collapse of the Grand Alliance government on July 27, 2017, Rashtriya Janata Dal national spokesman Manoj Jha said: “It is too little, too late.”
The JD(U), along with BJP, is part of the NDA alliance government in Bihar. Nitish Kumar had formed the government with BJP last year, after breaking the RJD-JDU-Congress Mahagathbandhan, or ‘Grand Alliance’ government, which won the Bihar assembly elections in 2015.
A source within the JD(U), while talking to this correspondent, conceded that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been cornered, but said that “We are not going to make any compromise on our principles.” When reminded that it was Tyagi, who on July 27 issued the last JD(U) statement on the state of affairs within the Grand Alliance, the source said that this time the state government is not going to fall. “Sushil Modi bagal mein baithe hain na (Sushil Modi is sitting beside CM),” he said. BJP leader Sushil Modi is Nitish Kumar’s deputy in the state government.
The reference to Sushil Modi made it amply clear that the NDA in Bihar is a divided house. Repeated utterances by hardline BJP Union Ministers like Choubey and Giriraj Singh against the Nitish Kumar government have opened old wounds in the Bihar NDA constituents.
Choubey and Giriraj were ministers in the Nitish cabinet between November 24, 2005 and June 16, 2013, when the latter kicked out all the BJP ministers from his ministry and snapped ties with the saffron party. Choubey and Giriraj were the two most vocal critics of Nitish Kumar when they were still in his cabinet. It was they who in June 2010 questioned Nitish’s move to cancel a dinner for BJP bigwigs and return ₹5 crore donated by the then Narendra Modi-led BJP government in Gujarat for victims of the Kosi flood.
Choubey and Giriraj used to be extremely critical of Sushil Modi too, especially when the latter called Nitish Kumar prime ministerial material. As both of them were considered as the staunchest loyalists of Narendra Modi, whose graph was going up then, nobody in Bihar BJP could dare to touch them, and they kept needling Nitish.
Two months before the 2013 break-up of the relationship between JD(U) and BJP, in June 2013, a visibly upset Giriraj, as a minister then, had to share a dais with the chief minister. The body language of both Giriraj and Nitish Kumar was worth noticing.
Choubey, on the other hand, has a personal complaint against Nitish. The latter threw out all the BJP ministers out of cabinet on June 16, 2013, the day when Uttarakhand was lashed by heavy floods and landslides, which led to the death of a large number of people. Choubey, who too was on a pilgrimage to Haridwar at the time, lost seven family members in the tragedy. Bihar watchers are of the view that it was a sort of double blow to Choubey and he would never forgive Nitish for ditching him and his party when he was fighting for survival.
“Now that Choubey and Giriraj are no more under Nitish and are in the union cabinet of Narendra Modi, they are in a position to pay Bihar CM back in the same coin. They may have the blessing from the top as it is in the interest of the BJP to keep the JD(U) leader on a tight leash,” commented a political observer.
On his part, Nitish has few options but to grin and bear it. His party is reportedly talking to the leaders of Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, two other constituents of the NDA. But in this fluid political scenario, these two parties too have their own set plans. They may not risk their political careers by throwing their lot behind the beleaguered Bihar CM.
- Narendra Modi
- Nitish Kumar
- Janata Dal (United)
- Rashtriya Janata Dal
- KC Tyagi
- Grand Alliance
- Ram Vilas Paswan
- Lok Janshakti Party
- Upendra Kushwaha
- Rashtriya Lok Samta Party
- Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
- Sushil Modi
- Ashwini Kumar Choubey
- Manoj Jha
- RJD-JDU-Congress Mahagathbandhan
- BJP Union minister Giriraj Singh
- Arijit Shashwat
- Kosi flood