As its ties with a partner of 17 years snapped Sunday,the BJP reaction was marked by posturing in public and relief in private. Even as party leaders Rajnath Singh,L K Advani,Nitin Gadkari,Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj kept mentioning their talks with the JD(U) leadership,the BJP did not deem it fit to even call a parliamentary board meeting to discuss the situation.
On the contrary,the same leaders could hardly hide their glee at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar finding himself cornered following the extreme position he took on Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi and following Modis inexorable sweep to the forefront. However,while Nitish may have foreclosed all attempts at a reconciliation under the assessment that the NDA even with the JD(U) would find it hard to come to power on its own at the Centre the BJP has to now play its cards right in Bihar. A weakened JD(U) may not necessarily mean a strengthened BJP in the state.
Since the BJP believes that it was the BJP-JD(U) (and not the JD-U alone) that dwarfed the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD in Bihar,it should not lose sight of the fact that the split will only make Lalu a more potent force now. And if the Maharajganj Lok Sabha bypolls are any indication,the BJP with Modi as chief campaigner may face a resurgent RJD in the Lok Sabha elections.
The swiftness with which the state BJP announced a Vishwasghat Diwas,apparently to highlight the alleged betrayal by Nitish and the JD(U),indicates that its sense of hurt remains strong and that it still may not be seeing the real challenges that lie ahead.
Plus,its not as if the JD(U) doesnt carry its own share of hurt at how the alliance was allowed to fizzle out. For some,its exit from the NDA Sunday puts the BJP on the same pedestal as the Congress when it comes to treating its alliance partners.
Ravish is a senior assistant editor based in Delhi