Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was always “comfortable” with the BJP and can never be happy with the Congress because “anti-Congressism is in his blood”, according to Sushil Kumar Modi, BJP leader and former deputy chief minister of the state.
Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange programme, amid speculation that Nitish could return to an alliance with the BJP, Modi said, “Nitish Kumar was always comfortable in the company of BJP and he was most comfortable when he was the railway minister under Vajpayee (in the A B Vajpayee government from 2001-2004). That was the golden period of his political career.”
Modi had recently levelled serious allegations of corruption against RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his family, which was followed by a CBI FIR and raids on properties linked to them. On Thursday, he hinted that he had received help from “people inside the (Bihar) government” in obtaining papers and documents to “expose” the RJD leadership.
“Nailing Lalu Prasad is not very difficult. He is very casual in his approach. He may not even remember the official names of his children. He doesn’t know how many properties he has,” said Modi.
Sounding optimistic about chances of his party joining hands again with Nitish’s JD(U) in Bihar, Modi said that the Chief Minister had always performed well in an alliance with the BJP.
“He was with the BJP for 17 years from 1996 to 2013, whatever he has achieved, either as a CM — now he is not a good CM, he is losing ground — or whatever he has achieved because of his good governance, was out of his working with the BJP,” he said.
Modi further said that Nitish, who entered active politics with the JP movement during the Emergency, cannot be comfortable with the Congress. “…anti-Congressism is in his blood. He knows Lalu Prasad, Congress and the BJP. Who will come with whom, only future can tell us,” said Modi.
Elaborating on this position, Modi said that many regional parties that have taken an anti-BJP position had joined hands with his party at one point of time. “Whether it is Mamata Banerjee (TMC), Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik (BJD) or Mayawati (BSP)… (they were) with the BJP at one point of time but got separated for different reasons,” he said.
“The same Nitish Kumar, in 1974, when the RSS and the ABVP (were fighting against the Emergency), was in the JP movement and worked along with us. He was working with the Jan Sangh (predecessor of the BJP) movement between 1974-80. He went away in 1984 but returned in 1996,” said Modi.
“When they want to go away, they cite secularism. I tell you, they have nothing to do with ideology, it’s a politics of convenience,” he alleged.
The BJP leader also said the Grand Alliance in Bihar is not likely to fall soon, but would not last its full term.
“Lalu Prasad will be the last person who would be pulling down this government. Even if Tejashwi Yadav is removed from this government, this government will continue. It may be crippled. Lalu will never make an effort to pull down the government,” claimed Modi.
“It (the coalition) might run for six months or one year,” he said.
Following its embarrassing defeat in the Bihar assembly elections of 2015, the BJP has been hoping that the Grand Alliance — JD(U), RJD and Congress — would break and that Nitish would return to the NDA fold. Such hopes have gained momentum after the JD(U) chief backed the Centre’s demonetisation move and decided that his party would vote in favour of the NDA’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind.