Bihar polls: No formal divorce, but BJP virtually abandons ally Nitish
Analysts of the Bihar scene believe that BJP will not physically push Nitish out of the alliance; it will simply create a situation in which the bed becomes too thorny for Nitish
‘Talaq, talaq, talaq’ has not been formally pronounced by either of the two major NDA partners in Bihar, but going by the body language as well as sound bites of the BJP leaders and the worried silence of their JD (U) counterparts, the political marriage seems to be all but over.
Tejashwi Surya’s praise for the leadership qualities, enthusiasm and imagination of Chirag Paswan has removed whatever ambiguity there was in respect of the BJP - LJP real relationship. And this praise was made almost immediately after Chirag prescribed jail for Nitish Kumar, the official CM candidate of the NDA. Tejashwi Surya is not just another BJP MP. His proximity to Dilli Durbar is an open secret.
Analysts of the Bihar scene believe that BJP will not physically push Nitish out of the alliance. It will simply create a situation in which the bed becomes too thorny for Nitish. That stage has perhaps already been reached. The two alliance partners are already ploughing it alone.
There is not much political asset to be distributed between the alliance partners and as such it would be interesting to see how effectively they put the liabilities in each other’s account.
Nobody other than PM Narendra Modi himself took the lead in this liability distribution exercise when in his maiden election 2020 speech in Sasaram, he removed 12 of the 15 years of the Nitish Kumar rule from the account book.
At least five of these 12 years have been the real delivery years of Nitish when the famous cycle-uniform scheme was launched and effective governance on the law and order front was more than visible.
Sources close to Nitish Kumar confirm that albeit a little late, he has read the writing of the wall but can do little at this hour. In one of his recent TV interviews, Home Minister Amit Shah left little scope for doubt when he said that the issue of inclusion of LJP representative in the Union cabinet will be taken up after the Bihar elections. Almost all BJP leaders say that LJP was not part of Bihar NDA, clearly meaning thereby that LJP was very much part of NDA at the national level.
Optics have special importance in politics. Old timers recall a famous cartoon by RK Laxman in the late 1970s when the Charan Singh-Morarji Desai war was at its peak. This depicted a ‘United we stand’ banner of the Janata Party as half split, with the two pole holders pulling the banner to their respective sides. A similar situation is visible in the NDA.
By not making even a passing reference to issues like Ram Temple, Article 370 and Triple Talaq etc and singing the harmony tune and harping on inclusive politics in meeting after meeting, Nitish, in a way has dropped signals that post-election, he too was not without options.
‘Saat Nishchay part II’ is not being talked by BJP campaigners and Nitish too is neither promising free Covid vaccination nor any jobs much less the 19 lakh jobs offered by the alliance partners.
As a matter of fact, not one but two NDAs, one de facto and one de jure can be seen on the state’s political chess board. The de facto NDA, besides BJP, HAM and VIP includes Pappu Yadav and Upendra Kushwaha. Many people also believe that in case of a hung Assembly, Manjhi, Kushwaha, Sahni and Pappu will manipulate their way to the side better placed in respect of govt formation.
This election appears to be, in fact, just a warm up exercise. Real politics will begin on 10 November afternoon.
‘Chalo ek bar phir se ajnabi ban jayein hum dono’ appears to be the NDA’s theme song.
Published: 27 Oct 2020, 3:00 PM