Presidential polls: In Nitish-Congress strain, BJP smells chance

The renewed developments come after Nitish’s statement on Sunday in which he blamed the Congress for the “current mess” in the Opposition.

Written by Anand Mishra , Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: July 4, 2017 7:18 am
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Nitish Kumar, Bihar CM Opposition, NJitish Kumar Opposition, Bihar Chief Minister Opposition Parties, India News, Indian Express, Indian Express News Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (PTI File Photo)

The BJP-led NDA seems to be sensing an opportunity in the strained relations between JD(U) and the Congress, and party leaders appear to be egging on in an effort to widen the gap between the alliance partners in Bihar and make Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar return to the “natural alliance” with the BJP.

The renewed developments come after Nitish’s statement on Sunday in which he blamed the Congress for the “current mess” in the Opposition. The remarks come days before JD(U)’s national executive in Delhi on July 23. Although the JD(U) has denied possibility of a return to the NDA fold, the mood in the BJP camp was upbeat on Monday after Nitish played down the

speculation that he fancies chances of becoming the Opposition’s Prime Minister candidate for 2019 General Election. “It’s a very significant statement. By denying the rumours, he has made it clear that there would be no hindrance for him to return (to NDA),” a BJP leader said. Another leader said: “He has opened a window. He is riding both boats, but chances are brighter that he is closer to our side.”

Nitish left the NDA in 2013. “We definitely see signs of a political realignment in Bihar. The way bitterness between JD(U) and Congress has increased… even the JD(U)-RJD relationship is far from cosy,” senior BJP leader from Bihar Sushil Modi said.

About Nitish’s chances of a return to the NDA, Modi said, “Anything can happen. But…it is very difficult to read Nitish Kumar’s mind. If any initiative has to be taken, it has to be taken by Nitish Kumar.” Denying that the party is veering towards NDA, JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi said Nitish himself had publicly asked Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to take the lead in mapping out a joint strategy for the Opposition. “(But) Congress started this (war of words) — making remarks… saying he has multiple ideologies,” he said.

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