Worrying times for Nitish in Bihar

With exit polls predicting a rout for the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar, a hotly debated question here is: What will be the fate of the Nitish Kumar government if the strength of his party, as suggested by pollsters, is reduced to two or three members out of 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state?

The JD(U) had won 20 seats while its erstwhile alliance partner — the BJP — bagged 12 seats in 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Nobody would have taken cognisance of the fate of Nitish regime now, had senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi not spilled the beans that at least 50 JD(U) MLAs were in touch with the BJP and would cross over the fence after the Lok Sabha results were declared on May 16.

“Besides, there are six vacancies in the Assembly owing to death/resignations. As such, the strength of the House has been reduced to 237, thereby reducing the halfway mark to 119. As of today, we have the requisite strength. The BJP should not dare to topple a duly-elected government,” cautioned a key aide of Nitish and cabinet minister, refusing to be identified.

“If what the BJP leader (Sushil Modi) has claimed is true, then they should bring a no-confidence motion against the government. Everything will be crystal clear on the floor of the House,” said another Cabinet Minister Shyam Razak.

Sources say that Nitish is personally not worried one bit about the fate of his government. At an informal meeting with his aides, he reportedly trashed the exit poll report, but at the same time hastened to add that he would not compromise with principles just to stay in power. “Siddhant se koi samjhauta nahin. (No compromise with principles),” he reiterated.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Lalu too, who, if he emerges stronger after the Lok Sabha polls, would like the Congress to withdraw support from the Nitish regime. But till May 16, he is not willing to talk about it. “This is Lok Sabha election. This is not the time to talk about Assembly. If you are going to Ranchi, will you talk about Karachi?” Lalu, known for his wit, remarked.

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