NDA allies' meet may ring alarm bells for BJP

NDA allies' meet may ring alarm bells for BJP

Is Bihar heading for another round of political churning? It seems so if the recent political developments in the state are any indication.

Nitish Kumar's discomfiture in running his government with the clutches of an aggressive BJP is quite palpable.

In less than a month, he has said as many as four times that he won't compromise with communalism, just as he did not compromise with corruption, even though he has never formed a government without the help of either the BJP or the RJD.

So eyebrows were raised when Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan held a closed-door meeting with Nitish on Sunday night.

This was the fifth meeting Paswan held with Nitish in the last month. Though both the regional satraps have never been close friends, they had both become Union ministers for the first time in December 1989, in the short-lived V P Singh government.

"I came to meet Nitish to invite him for the Ambedkar Jayanti, slated for April 14," said Paswan after coming out of the chief minister's residence in 1, Aney Marg.

The Union minister scotched rumours that in the coming months he or Nitish would quit the NDA.

"Neither me nor Nitish nor Upendra Kushwaha (another Union minister from Bihar and president of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party) will desert the NDA," said Paswan, who has the rare distinction of serving under six prime ministers since 1989  - V P Singh, H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujral, A B Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.

Paswan is said to be unhappy with the Centre over the mishandling of the Dalit issue, while Nitish is miffed with some of the Union ministers for stoking communal tensions in Bihar.

The third person in this troika is Kushwaha, who met Lalu Prasad in AIIMS (Delhi) last week, thereby fuelling speculations about an impending realignment. Incidentally, Paswan has also invited Kushwaha for the Ambedkar Jayanti.

Together, these three leaders command around 20%  of the votes comprising mostly non-Yadav OBCs and Dalits.

"Try as much as he can but we will not align with Nitish chacha (uncle) again. Even if he apologises, we will not forgive him for betraying the mandate," said former Dy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav in Patna on Sunday.

"Any new realignment will depend on Lalu's stand. He had rightly termed Paswan the 'weather scientist', who knows in advance which way the (political) wind is likely to blow. The Congress is also keen that Nitish would eventually join those who are inimical to the BJP," a senior Bihar MP told DH on Monday, predicting that the NDA government in the state is unlikely to last long.

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