BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday said his party knew very well how to take care of its allies and respect them. He added that since 2014, only TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had quit the NDA, but Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar rejoining the alliance had strengthened it.
He was speaking at a party function soon after he met Nitish over breakfast at the state guesthouse. The meeting comes in the wake of several JD (U) leaders trying to assert the party’s supremacy in the NDA in Bihar. Nitish emerged with a smile after the breakfast, but refrained from talking to the media.
Shah and Nitish later met over a dinner hosted by the Chief Minister. A senior JD(U) leader said, “The ice has melted between the two parties. There has been no discussion on seat-sharing. It could be decided by August after discussing the social combination on each seat”.
A BJP leader said Shah has already said the BJP valued its ally. “This is a good enough indication. Modalities of seat sharing would be decided soon”.
Seven BJP leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, attended the dinner. JD (U) ministers Bijendra Prasad Yadav and Lalan Singh, and Rajya Sabha MP R C P Singh were also present.
Earlier in day, Shah said the NDA won 31 Lok Sabha seats Bihar in 2014 and with Nitish in the alliance now, it could win all 40 seats in 2019. Shah advised the Opposition to “stop salivating” as there were no fissures in the NDA. Targeting Rahul Gandhi, he said the Congress chief had no moral authority to ask questions, but should answer several questions on Congress’s “misgovernance” for four generations.
Addressing party workers from all 243 Assembly segments of Bihar, Shah said, “The Bihar government and the Centre have been working in tandem. There are people who have been saying so many things about seat-sharing. Unhe laar tapkane dijiye (let them salivate). We know very well how to take good care of allies. Since the 2014 elections, only Chandrababu Naidu left us, but Nitish Kumar came back and strengthened the alliance. We won 31 seats in 2014 and defeated Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh, Mayawati and Congress. Now that Nitish Kumar is with us, we will win all 40 seats in Bihar”.
Shah said the “Congress-mukt” campaign had started from Bihar and it should conclude in Bihar. “The Opposition has been trying to lobby against us…In UP, bua and bhatija — an apparent reference to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati — are coming together. But the result would be same in 2019 as in 2014. Chanakya ne ek baar kaha tha agar sabhi chor eketthe ho jaaye to samjho raja sahi kaam kar raha hai, parakrami hai. Main kisi ko chor nahi kah raha raha hoon, mai sirf Chanakya ko dohra raha hoon (Chanakya had once said if all thieves unite, it means the king has been doing well and is mighty. I am not calling anyone a thief, only repeating what Chanakya said)”.
Three persons from each Assembly segment, who are well-versed in working on the social media, were called to hear Shah. These workers, termed “cyber yoddhas”, have been asked to counter the Opposition attacks and spread the party’s ideology and government programmes through the social media.
Reacting to the Nitish-Shah meeting, RJD’s national vice president Shivanand Tewary said, “Amit Shah is a seasoned politician. It is not possible that he has forgotten his boss’ insult by Nitish (referring to Nitish cancelling a dinner of BJP leaders in 2010). We felt nice to see Nitish mark attendance in Shah’s durbar even though it was well-camouflaged as breakfast hosted by the BJP. Now, Nitish will know his worth in the current Bihar politics”.
‘Alliance Cong’s helplessness in Bihar’
AICC general secretary and former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday said alliance was the “helplessness” of Congress because it had failed to build its strength in Bihar despite being in the Opposition for 28 years. Gehlot later met RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who has returned from Mumbai after a surgery. He said, “Lalu Prasad has always had a fondness for Congress. We have been alliance partners for long”. Asked why he said “alliance was the helplessness” of the Congress, he clarified, “I did not say ‘helplessness’. I only meant to tell party workers to work harder”.