NDA roulette begins in Bihar
By Manish Anand | Published: 29th July 2017 11:05 PM |
NEW DELHI: Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president and former chief minister of Bihar Jitan Ram Manjhi is miffed at the sudden turn of political events in the state. Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha, who heads the Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party (RLSP), also seems to be at a crossroad. Manjhi and Kushwaha are considered sworn enemies of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, but they find themselves pushed into the same boat by the BJP.
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) was the beneficiary of the windfall gains after the Narendra Modi wave swept Bihar in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Out of eight Lok Sabha seats allocated to the party in the seat adjustment, LJP won seven. But the dramatic political developments on July 26 threaten to make the heydays of earlier constituents of the NDA in Bihar history. “BJP had been generous to allocate eight and four Lok Sabha seats to the LJP and RLSP respectively in the 2014 general elections. LJP won seven, and RLSP two. HAM joined the NDA later after Manjhi fell out with Nitish. Now with the senior partner JD (U) back in the NDA camp, the ruling alliance has too many claimants for a small pie of seats in the state,” said a senior BJP leader. Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats.
Kushwaha was Nitish’s associate for a long time before he fell out to float his own outfit RLSP in 2013. “Kushwaha’s strength lies in his numerically strong caste of Koeri. His vote base is considered valuable by any dominant political party to gain an edge over rivals. Since he’s focussed on increasing his party’s strength, he will be open to all possibilities in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” said a close aide of Kushwaha.
In contrast, Paswan has grown as a dependable BJP ally since his son Chirag Paswan persuaded him to ally with the saffron party ahead of the 2014 elections. “Paswan is a camp-hopper in Bihar politics. But he’s pragmatic and chooses the winning party to align with to stay in power. There will be disappointments with reduced number of seats for LJP in 2019, but he will accept the political change of fate,” said the BJP leader.