BJP goes tactful in Bihar, mindful of Nitish’s sensibilities

With Bihar assembly elections, more or less going in its favour the BJP leadership seems to be taking a lot of care to handle its political goals in the state.Yes, the party went on to remove former deputy CM Sushil Modi, who was widely viewed as someone very close to JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar and roadblock to its own growth in the state. At the same time, it is significant that in finding his replacement the party leadership has also not gone in for any aggressive or ambitious central leader ;ithas tactfully opted for Sushil Modi’s proteges– both the deputy CMs Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi — are said to be a lot like him and are known to keep a very low profile.

Both Prasad and Devi are seasoned MLAs and party veterans that Nitish Kumar may not even notice the change and perhaps may have no reason to complain . This is what makes formation of the new NDA Government in Bihar again interesting– a BJP which has 74 assembly seats–31 seats more than its ally Janata Dal(United) is seen sticking to its pre-poll promise of making Nitish Kumar Chief Minister and re-electing him to the office.

Nonetheless, Nitish’s return to power is a matter of disquiet; not just to those who fought him in the elections and lost by a whisker but also to those who have known him for long and worked with him.Given the nature of the mandate it was felt that the JD(U) chief should perhaps have not accepted the BJP’s offer of support. On his part too it must be said Nitish had not readily conceded. It took a lot of effort and persuasion from the BJP side to get Nitish to lead the State Government .It is significant that Nitish went on to acknowledge PM Narendra Modi’s help and support via tweet only a day after the polls came in and Modi referred to him in his address at the BJP headquarters in Delhi.

The rise of Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi as Deputy CMs is being viewed as the first sign of a strong BJP in Bihar– that will not only hijack the political base of the JD(U) but will also ensure that the party’s social support base of extremely backward( EBCs) and most backward classes(MBCs)– is transferred to the BJP. Both Prasad and Devi belong to the under-represented, Most Backward Classes.

“We are not taking anything from the JD(U).The idea of tapping support of EBCs and MBCs was originally propounded by BJP idealogue Govindacharya. Nitishji of course worked on these concepts and consolidated his party’s support base, ” points out senior BJP leader Sanjay Paswan

To many in Bihar, across the political aisle the real hero of the election battle is of course Tejashwi Yadav; he may not have clinched a victory but has certainly scripted history. There is more than a sneaking admiration for the manner in which he had led his Rashtriya Janata Dal to post stunning results– his party polled 23.1 % votes and won 75 seats, beating the BJP by one seat which won 74 seats . He also left a lasting impression on the Bihar political scene by throwing a life-line to CPI(M-L). He resuscitated the CPI(M-L) to include Dalit community in his mahaghatbandan and the ultra left, which contested 19 seats, won 12.

Many BJP leaders admit that Tejashwi had packed his campaign with a lot of punch and energy. At a time when BJP veterans were logging five to six election meetings , Tejashwi was addressing 20 rallies a day.

“He made brief speeches– barely lasting for 15-20 minutes and focussed only on Bihar specific issues . Not even for once was he tempted to speak up on national issues or respond to comments made by the PM, “recalls Shambu Shrivastava, a former JD(U) leader.

“At an young age of 31, he managed an entire campaign moving away from his father Lalu Prasad’s shadow– didn’t even use pictures of his father or mother.

In all this where does this leave the other young man –Chirag Paswan of Lok Janshakti Party– who polled nearly 6 per cent votes and largely wrecked the fortunes of the JD(U and to some extent the BJP?

“He will not be punished . At the same time , he cannot expect any reward for the havoc he has wrecked , ” goes the inside track in the BJP.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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