BJP’s victory in Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections may have caused discomfort and some amount of self-doubt in the much-touted grand alliance of RJD-JD (U)-Congress, but it still has not given these parties a sense of urgency to come together with a common poll plank. All top Bihar leaders from grand alliance camp have been backing on their individual strengths rather than pursuing a common goal against BJP.
While RJD chief Lalu Prasad has been recovering from heart surgery, party vice president and former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has started the party campaign, of course, with backing from Lalu Prasad, to take up “issue of public concerns”. Singh has, in fact, chosen 34-point agenda to attack JD (U) more than the ruling NDA.
Amidst such backdrop, former chief minister Nitish Kumar is back to his own Yatra politics, all by himself. He is back to renew his old agenda of demanding special status for Bihar, which otherwise failed to emerge a poll plank in last Lok Sabha elections. RJD legislature party leader AB Siddiqui asks how Nitish Kumar is thinking of consolidating alliance with RJD and giving it a formal shape when he is “running his own tune” to gain his lost political ground. Kumar will start his Sampark Yatra from West Champaran, again invoking Champaran symbolism of Gandhi, from 13 November and will cover two districts in a day.
Bihar Chief Minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi is bent on further “ultra Dalit” agenda, which has made the task of forging a strong grand alliance all the more difficult. Manjhi told a public gathering at Gaya on Thursday that Dalits, who are about 16 per cent of Bihar population, can make it count in next Assembly election. “I was made chief minister. If there is a greater political awareness, Dalits are in a position to choose its leader (read CM) after next polls, ” said Manjhi, who has earlier courted controversy for asking Dalits”to raise their numbers” by inter-caste marriage.
Nitish Kumar, the “yatri” trying to back his development politics, is now caught between personal ambition of Manjhi and “recalcitrance” of Lalu Prasad to not “allow him become a leader of grand alliance”. Nitish, who looks desperate to keep his pan-Indian appeal intact by joining meeting of regional parties outside Bihar, has now challenge at his own turf. The special status plank is the only thing that may get him into focus. But then, it remains to be seen how he tries to convince people against resurgent BJP under Narendra Modi.