After RLSP chief Kushwaha’s meeting with RJD’s Tejashwi, Amit Shah calls him
Nitish Kumar and Amit Shah might have announced that they will contest equal number of seats, yet the relationship between the rank and file of the two parties are not at all amicable
In a joint press conference in New Delhi on October 26, Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said that their respective parties would contest equal number of seats in the state in 2019 Lok Sabha poll. Thus, in a way, the two parties ––BJP and Janata Dal (United)––have declared that they are twin brothers, that is no one is “Bade Bhai” (Elder Brother). Till now this was the bone of contention between the two major constituents of the National Democratic Alliance.
But there are two other brothers in the NDA family.
While the Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan said that all the three constituents of the NDA would have to make ‘sacrifice’ to adjust Nitish Kumar, who according to him is a popular leader, the supremo of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party Upendra Kushwaha spoke through his action. He had an unscheduled meeting with the leader of opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Prasad Yadav in Circuit House in a small town of the state, Arwal, just after the announcement was made by Nitish and Shah in New Delhi.
Though Kushwaha continued to repose faith in the leadership of Narendra Modi and tried to downplay his meeting with the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, what he left unsaid is more important.
Latest reports suggest that Amit Shah has invited Kushwaha for talks after his hobnobbing with the RJD.
His party’s working president, Nagmani, was more vocal. A bitter critic of Nitish, this time he took on at the BJP and charged it with pushing the RLSP out of NDA.
There is a very strong resentment among the BJP circles over the way the saffron party leadership had agreed to sacrifice so much seats for the sake of Nitish, who has now become highly unpredictable. The saffron party had won 22 seats last time yet it has agreed to contest 16 or 17 in 2019
Whether the RLSP crosses over to Grand Alliance or remains in the NDA cannot be said at this point of time, as Kushwaha is known for his flip-flops. Yet he has at least succeeded in sending this message among his own supporters, mostly Koeris, that after the return of Nitish, his party is getting step-brotherly treatment, especially over the distribution of property (read seats).
The issue is not how the four brothers tackle the situation. It is how their respective families accept the distribution. When the brothers grow up and have their own families they had to do a lot of tight rope walking. Even if the brothers maintain their relationship, the ties among the cousins are very often uneasy and tense.
This is the problem the four NDA constituents are facing in Bihar now. Nitish and Amit Shah might have talked about cordiality among themselves, yet the truth is that the relationship between the rank and file of the two parties are not at all amicable. Gone are the days of 2009 Lok Sabha and 2005 and 2010 Assembly elections.
There is a very strong resentment among the BJP circles over the way the saffron party leadership had agreed to sacrifice so many seats for the sake of Nitish, who has now become highly unpredictable. The saffron party had won 22 seats last time yet it has agreed to contest 16 or 17 in 2019.
As Janata Dal (United) is not a cadre-based party and has very few dedicated workers at the grassroots level it has to depend on the BJP workers, who would man the booths at for its candidates in elections.
This time most of these cadres are not only critical of Nitish, but are even abusive of the Bihar chief minister. One of them, while talking to this correspondent, even went on to say that “Lalu Prasad (RJD chief) was not hypocrite, while Nitish is very dangerous.”
It is true that in 2014 many BJP leaders and workers, which included Giriraj Singh and CP Thakur, were extremely critical of the party’s decision to rope in the LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan, whom they publicly call as corrupt, casteist and one who promotes criminals.
But as there was a big zeal to make Narendra Modi the prime minister of the country, the party workers willingly or unwillingly supported LJP candidates in seven of the Lok Sabha constituencies where it contested. That eagerness of the BJP workers for the LJP candidates was missing in the 2015 Assembly election and the party ended up winning just one seat. Even Paswan’s brother Pashupati Kumar Paras lost from his own Assembly constituency.
But, 2019 is not likely to be like 2014. What even the most dedicated BJP worker is expected to do is to give everything for his party candidates. But they are not going to do much for the cause of other constituents, especially Janata Dal (United).
In such a situation giving so much importance of Janata Dal (United) is being seriously questioned in the Bihar unit of the BJP. By what logic has the party decided to contest 16 or 17 seats when it fielded candidates in 30 constituencies last time? This is the question haunting the minds of the workers.
The story was updated at 8.01pm to include teh latest development
- Narendra Modi
- Amit Shah
- Nitish Kumar
- Bharatiya Janata Party
- Janata Dal (United)
- Upendra Kushwaha
- Tejashwi Prasad Yadav
- Rashtriya Lok Samata Party
- Chirag Paswan
- 2019 Lok Sabha Poll
- joint Press conference