Nitish’s great gamble

In his biggest political gamble yet, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in protest against the elevation of Narendra Modi, bringing to an end the 17- year- old alliance between the Janata Dal (United) and the BJP.

Blaming the BJP squarely for the unsavoury turn of events within the coalition, he also sacked all 11 saffron ministers from the state cabinet on the charge of dereliction of duty and decided to seek a trust vote on the floor of the assembly on Wednesday in view of the new situation.

Political observers, however, believe that Nitish’s decision is fraught with grave risks as the BJP will not only emerge as a formidable opposition but also put his party in a tough electoral fight in the state. Nitish, who had been asking the BJP to desist from putting the Gujarat chief minister in the forefront ahead of the next Lok Sabha  elections, said the JD (U) was compelled to opt out of the NDA because of some recent developments within its coalition party.; “ We cannot compromise on our basic principles, values and our stand on core issues which are central to the ethos of our party,” he said. “ We do not care for consequences.”

What the future holds

Nitish’s decision to snap ties with the BJP over the Modi issue is apparently aimed at wooing the crucial Muslim voters, who make up 16.4 per centof Bihar’s electorate. The JD(U) leader has his reasons to believe that hiscarefully cultivated segments of extremely backward castes- Mahadalits- Muslim combination will help him at the hustings as Muslim- Yadav (MY) factor worked for 15 years for Lalu Prasad. But it remains a moot point whether his anti-Modi stand will earn him the decisive Muslim votes in future. At least in the recent Maharajganj Lok Sabha by- poll, it did not.

His biggest worry would be losing the upper caste votes after the JD(U)’ s exit from the NDA. It may not be easy to sway the Bhumihar, Brahmin and Rajput voters with the BJP fighting against his party now. Lashing out at Nitish, his erstwhile deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said the JD(U) is wary of the rise of Narendra Modi because it fears that he might erode its vote base because he belonged to the backward castes and could polarise votes. Sushil said Narendra Modi was an honest politician and had risen from a poor, backward family.

“Besides, he is not a product of dynastic politics. All these factors have made him a threat for some people.” Sushil said the JDU was pursuing ‘politics of convenience’ as far as secularism was concerned. “ Almost all the leaders of the BJP have been branded communal but all parties, except the Congress, have tied up with the BJP in the past. Even CPI has joined hands with it in Bihar,” he added., however, said the alliance had been running smoothly in Bihar and he wanted it to continue but “external interference” in the BJP had started creating problems within the party inrecent times. He said in today’s era of coalition politics when no national party was likely to get absolute majority in the general elections, the BJP should have made efforts to expand the NDA rather than reducing it. “ Nobody should have any illusions of any wave favouring them in the next elections,” he said, alluding to BJP leaders’ all-out support for Modi. Claiming that the people of Bihar had given their mandate for the development of Bihar only, Nitish said that he had invited the Bihar BJP leaders for talks on Saturday but they did not turn up. “The BJP ministers also refrained from attending the cabinet meet today and stopped performing their duties. This was a strange phenomenon in a parliamentary democracy. I have, therefore, recommended dismissal of the 11 ministers to the Governor.”

End of uncertainty 

He said he had also asked Governor D. Y. Patil to convene a special session of the Bihar assembly so that he could prove his majority and put an end to the uncertainties. The Raj Bhavan later accepted his recommendations. Earlier, JD-U national president Sharad Yadav said the party had decided to part ways with the BJP in view of the developments in the BJP in the past six- seven months. Announcing that he was resigning as the convenor of the NDA, Yadav said that the JD- U had adopted a political resolution on its alliance with the BJP.

BJP- JD(U) POLL RIDE

  • 1996: Samata Party (SP), under George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar, joins hands with the BJP
  • 1998: NDA is established with 13 constituent parties. SP chief Fernandes appointed convenor and A. B. Vajpayee chairman 
  • 1999: JD(U) joins NDA. In the elections held the same year, BJP and JD(U), contesting as NDA, win 23 and 18 seats, respectively, out of the 54 in the then united Bihar
  • 2000: Nitish appointed CM on March 3; resigns a week later on account of a fractured mandate 
  • 2001: Nitish becomes railway minister in Vajpayee’s Cabinet
  • 2004: JD(U) and BJP routed in Lok Sabha elections, winning only 6and 5 seats, respectively, out of Bihar’s 40 
  • 2005: Assembly polls throw up a fractured mandate — JD(U) gets 55and BJP 37 seats in Bihar’s 243- member assembly. President’s rule imposed and polls announced again. In the election, NDA wins a clear majority with JD(U) getting 88 seats and BJP 55. Nitish becomes CM with Vajpayee and Advani's blessings
  • 2009: JD(U) and BJP win 20 and 12 seats in Bihar in LS polls. Nitish prevents Modi from campaigning in Bihar 2010: NDA sweeps assembly polls, JD(U) wins 115 seats and BJP 91 seats.

Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.

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