Time and option fast running out for Nitish Kumar

Time and option fast running out for Nitish Kumar

PTI Photo

Is Nitish Kumar, once a strong Chief Minister of Bihar, being weakened by his own alliance partners? The recent developments indicate so.

The newly appointed Bihar BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal recently said that the issue of a BJP Chief Ministerial candidate for 2020 Assembly elections in the State would be decided by the party’s top leadership. He did not reiterate what senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi said last week that “Nitish was the captain of the NDA and the next Assembly election would be contested under his leadership.”

Jaiswal’s assertions carry weight as the BJP, which has always played second fiddle to Nitish in the State, has so far never had a Chief Minister in Bihar ever since the party was formed in 1980.

The State BJP chief’s remarks come close on the heels of Union Minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan’s stand that “Nitish is the NDA leader in Bihar until the BJP decides to nominate someone else for the next year’s Assembly polls.”

Paswan’s statement comes shortly after another BJP MLC and former Union Minister Sanjay Paswan asked Nitish to shift to Centre and make way for a BJP leader (preferably Sushil Modi or Giriraj Singh) to don the mantle of Chief Minister. 

A rattled JD (U) is watching the fast-changing political developments with cautious optimism. Although it knows for sure how the gulf between the two ruling allies in Bihar is widening by the day. However, it had not expected Paswan to ‘desert’ Nitish at a time when the Bihar Chief Minister needed him most. Paswan’s stand is a clear indication that he will “stand by Nitish till he is the NDA leader, but will go with the BJP if a new leader is projected by the saffron camp as the Chief Ministerial candidate for 2020 Assembly polls.”

The rift between the JD (U) and the BJP has strained further with the demand made by the likes of Giriraj Singh for NRC in Muslim-dominated districts in Bihar which share borders with West Bengal. “We are not in favour of such exercise,” asserted Bihar JD (U) chief and Rajya Sabha member, Bashishta Narayan Singh.

Amid such strained ties, Nitish is keeping a hawk’s eye on rebel RJD MLAs who have pledged “unconditional support during any crisis.” Besides, the JD (U) strongman has kept Congress too in good humour by not speaking anything against the grand old party.