Indian Express

Bihar: One battle lost, onto another

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Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

With the battle against Narendra Modi lost, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar faces another big challenge — to save his government and chair. Even though the JD(U) government enjoys simple majority with help from four Congress members and as many Independents in the House of 243, there is a widespread apprehension of an  internal rebellion in the party because of Nitish’s decision to part ways with the BJP. His party had with the BJP achieved almost an invincible social combination in the state.

Kumar, who kept saying during his public rallies that the BJP would try to destabilise his government if it came to power, would not miss any chance now to put the blame on the saffron party if his government fell.

Even if the BJP does not make any overt attempt to destalise the Nitish Kumar government that may gain him public sympathy, the Chief Minister may find it difficult to put his house in order. Six of the 14 ministers did not attend a Cabinet meeting called by Kumar Thursday. The absentees included Narendra Singh, Narendra Narayan Yadav, Awdhesh Kushwaha, Shahid Ali Khan, Lessi Singh and Bijendra Yadav. With Sharad Yadav losing the prestigious Madhepura seat, it will be all the more difficult for Kumar to keep the party together. “The way three ministers — Ramai Ram, Bhim Singh and Nitish Mishra — clashed at the Thursday’s cabinet meeting over government functioning (though in the absence of the Chief Minister), it is not a good sign for the party,” said a JD(U) minister.

Sources said Kumar would soon go for a cabinet expansion exercise to keep some senior leaders in good humour. “Though it will be difficult to effect a split in the party, the BJP would hope that a leader like Sharad Yadav or even Narendra Singh takes initiative to split the party,” said a JD(U) source.

A senior BJP leader said the party would not stand to gain by splitting the JD(U) but if it splits because of its own contradictions, it could take it as natural fallout of Kumar getting weaker after Modi’s win. The BJP, the leader, said had been wary of the fact that public still rates Kumar highly as CM and hence would not resort to any tactics that might earn sympathy for him and help him bounce back in the Assembly elections due next year.

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