Why Nitish is letting AAP be

Bihar CM avoids attacking vigilante politics; JD(U) praises AAP, cites similar ideologies, looks at erosion of Modi votes.

Inside the AAP’s Patna office, ‘donated’ by a former RJD minister’s daughter-in-law.Ravi S Sahani Inside the AAP’s Patna office, ‘donated’ by a former RJD minister’s daughter-in-law. Ravi S Sahani
Patna | Published on:January 29, 2014 12:11 am

BECAUSE of the style of its politics in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party has been the subject of criticism and ridicule from regional parties in various parts of  the country as it seeks to grow in those states. Not from the JD(U) in Bihar.

The ruling party, which looks tightly placed for the Lok Sabha elections after it split from the BJP, has gone as far as supporting the AAP brand of populist and vigilante politics.

With recent poll surveys predicting a dismal performance by Nitish Kumar as the BJP plays up Narendra Modi’s claim to the prime minister’s chair, the JD(U) sees no reason to oppose the AAP. Should the AAP get even three to four per cent of the votes, it will add that many more to Nitish’s “anti-Modi” agenda. In the last elections, the JD(U) and the BJP had managed 38 per cent of the votes to the RJD-LJP’s 24 per cent and the Congress’s 10 per cent.

It is not as if the AAP has a poll strategy in place. The half-dozen functionaries at the party office in Patna don’t even know who their candidates will be. They concede they have no prominent face yet against the likes of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and Sushil Modi, and stress their leaders are emerging from among the aam aadmi.

The office is at House No. 83 on Road No. 21 of S K Nagar, which is not famous as an address yet, though any rickshaw-puller or hawker can guide one there. A few plastic chairs and a wooden table, with a large AAP banner in the background, are all it has. The functionaries seek “the media’s support in helping a new party take birth in Bihar”, and provide updates on a membership drive that ended January 26, claiming they now have 13 lakh members including 1.25 lakh in Patna.

The house, interestingly, has been “donated” by Kumari Neetu Rani, daughter-in-law of former RJD minister Ramdev Singh Yadav. Rani is an active AAP member now. RJD chief Lalu Prasad has been mocking the AAP, likening it to “bubbles” and calling it a party of “novices”.

Nitish Kumar, on the other hand, has been refraining from commenting on the AAP style of politics, which has been criticised even by the President. Nitish has been praising Arvind Kejriwal, however, though he feels the latter should not take credit for janata darbars since the innovation was the former’s, now being followed by several leaders across the country.

“We don’t oppose the AAP because it is born out of the Anna Hazare movement for citizens’ charters and against corruption. We have implemented the Right to Public Services Act and taken other anti-graft measures, and hence are not ideologically different from the AAP,” JD(U) national spokesperson KC Tyagi, a Rajya Sabha MP, …continued »

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