Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief and Nitish Kumar is said to be disappointed with the saffron party over a variety of reasons. These include the BJP’s unilateral style, communal remarks by two Union ministers from the state, and absence of JD(U) representation in the Narendra Modi government, sources said.
Sources, however, maintained that despite the irritants, the JD(U) has no intention of parting company since there is no chance of Nitish making up with Lalu Prasad again and the JD(U) will not survive an election on its own.
The praise showered by Modi during his visit to the state on Tuesday has also ignited hope in the JD(U) that BJP may take steps to mend the alliance, JD(U) insiders said..
Nitish left the grand alliance with the RJD and Congress in July 2017 and formed a fresh government with BJP. He gave 14 ministerial berths to legislators from his party and 13 to the BJP, including the deputy CM’s post to Sushil Kumar Modi, besides one ministry to NDA ally LJP of Ram Vilas Paswan.
The JD(U) had hoped the Modi government would reciprocate. Not only has that not happened, there is no indication of any such offer in future either, a party leader said. Sources said while Nitish consults his deputy on all key issues, unilateralism marks the BJP’s work style at the Centre. Citing an example, they point out Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar’s decision to straightaway announce on TV that MPs from alliance partners would not draw salary and allowances for 23 days on which Parliament did not function in the just-concluded Budget Session.
Party leaders had to admit to the media that no one had spoken to them before the decision was announced.
Nitish, according to sources, was also upset over remarks by Union ministers Giriraj Singh and Ashwini Kumar Choubey during and after the recent byelections in Bihar that the NDA lost. The CM was forced to state publicly that he would never compromise with “either corruption or communalism”, seen as ticking off opposition RJD and partner BJP, respectively.
Sources in the JD(U) say the hallmark of Nitish’s administration over the years has been his stress on good governance, but the BJP does not seem inclined to showcase that. This could lead to an ideological tussle, they said.
Another potential source of trouble could be seat-sharing for Lok Sabha polls.
Of 40 seats in Bihar, the NDA had won 31 in 2014 (BJP 22, LJP 6, RLSP 3), and if the LJP and RLSP stay in the NDA, an inevitable application of the “sitting party gets same seats” formula would imply the JD(U) can at best hope to fight only the remaining nine seats — of which it had won two, RJD had bagged four, Congress two, and the NCP one.