Political posturings within the NDA in Bihar are in full swing with both the JD(U) and the BJP squabbling over the recent waterlogging in Patna.
While Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and four other BJP leaders skipped the Ravan Dahan function attended by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan on Tuesday, state Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha was seen sitting next to Chief Minister at the function.
The annual Ravan Dahan function is organised by Shree Dussehra Committee Trust and was regularly attended by Nitish and Sushil Kumar Modi in the past. This time, neither the Deputy CM, who was invited for the function, nor any of the four BJP MLAs from Patna attended the function.
None ready to blink first
Neither the BJP nor JD (U) are ready to blink first in the ongoing war of words. While BJP has dropped a subtle message to its ally by skipping the Ravan Dahan, seating the Chief Minister next to the state Congress president may well be a signal from JD(U) that it may explore a new political realignment if pushed to the wall.
While Modi has not said anything on skipping the function, BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said: “no political meaning should be made out of it”.
“It would not be proper to view the absence of BJP leaders at the event as a sign of some discord between the NDA allies. It was not an official or NDA programme but a social, cultural and non-political event. NDA is a rock solid and united force,” Anand said, adding that some of the BJP leaders had prior engagements.
A BJP leader, however, said the party leaders’ decision to not attend the function was in line with Union minister and BJP Patna Sahib MP Ravi Shankar Prasad’s stand to keep Dussehra a low-key affair because of the hardship people faced due to the waterlogging.
BJP sources said this could be considered “nuanced posturings” following the war of words between the JD (U) and BJP leaders over the waterlogging issue.
While the Chief Minister had said the government had done its best to deal with the waterlogging woes, BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh had apologised to the people for the problem. Following Giriraj’s remark, the JD(U) had sought the intervention of the top BJP leadership to “rein in” the party leader.
JD(U) spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said, “It was surprising that some leaders (from BJP) did not attend the function. But it was not a government function and some remarks here and there would not have any bearing on the alliance. PM Narendra Modi and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar are the two big faces of NDA and we will win the 2020 state polls.”