Recently, senior BJP leader and former Union Minister, Sanjay Paswan made a bold remark by suggesting that Nitish Kumar ‘should now move to the Centre’ and leave Bihar to ‘BJP and the second-rung JDU leadership’. Paswan who is currently a member of the Bihar Legislative Council said, “Nitish Kumar has now been the Chief Minister of Bihar for over 13 years and there should be a change now even if it is a change for the sake of change. Nitish Kumar has done very well as Chief Minister but should now move to Centre and leave Bihar to BJP and second-rung JDU leadership.” Earlier in July this year, Sushil Modi had said that the NDA would contest the Assembly polls next year under the leadership of Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar.
It must be noted that the Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, through years of deft political maneuvering, managed to position himself as ‘Sushasan Babu’ as a counter against the Jungle Raj practised by Lalu Prasad Yadav led RJD. However, his image as the ‘Sushasan Babu’ of Bihar has been severely battered after his government’s inept handling of recent tragedies- encephalitis and floods. MLC Sanjay Paswan’s statement had led to speculations about the BJP taking up a bigger role in Bihar given the changed political circumstances.
In the light of the above-stated circumstances, Sushil Modi’s statement showering praise on Bihar CM Nitish Kumar comes as a huge surprise.
Taking to Twitter, Bihar Deputy CM, Sushil Modi said,
“Nitish Kumar is the Captain of NDA in Bihar & will remain its Captain in next assembly elections in 2020 also.When Captain is hitting 4 & 6 & defeating rivals by inning where is the Q of any change.”
@NitishKumar is the Captain of NDA in Bihar & will remain its Captain in next assembly elections in 2020 also.When Captain is hitting 4 & 6 & defeating rivals by inning where is the Q of any change.
— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) September 11, 2019
Though Nityanand Rai is the President of BJP’s Bihar unit, the fact that Sushil Modi is probably the senior-most face of the BJP in the state and also the Deputy Chief Minister of the state, virtually makes him the representative of BJP’s opinion in the NDA government in the state. However, his statement showering praise upon the Bihar CM does not correctly reflect the sentiments of the BJP workers and supporters.
It must be noted that during the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year, BJP led NDA recorded its highest ever tally in the state of Bihar currently led by Nitish Kumar. It won 39 out of 40 seats, the only seat the BJP led NDA lost was Kishanganj. NDA won over 50 per cent of the popular vote in the state and all of this was possible due to the trust the electorate bestowed in PM Modi.
Nitish Kumar has indeed been the Bihar CM for the last 13 years but it should also not be forgotten that there is an electorate tilt towards PM Modi. It was in his name that LJP and JDU registered impressive numbers too. As such, the BJP seems to be the most effective force in today’s time and there is no reason why the BJP should restrict itself into playing second fiddle to the JD (U).
There is also no need to think that the national-level party should always play a secondary role vis-a-vis the regional player when it comes to Assembly polls, Maharashtra being a case in point. The BJP does play a bigger role in its alliance with Shiv Sena in the state of Maharashtra. There is no reason why this model cannot be replicated in the state of Bihar.
At a time, when Nitish Kumar’s popularity has taken a hit in the state of Bihar so aptly characterised by JD (U)’s “Kyun Kare Vichar, Thike to hai Nitish Kumar” slogan which was seen as poorly conceived and defeatist, the BJP must lead from the front and get out of the defensive mindset of playing a secondary role to Nitish Kumar.
Taking the bigger role in Bihar makes that much more sense for the BJP given its political foothold in the state and strong local leadership. The BJP doesn’t have to bother too much about groundwork, all it needs is a change in strategy and more aggressive leadership.
The BJP had performed brilliantly in Bihar during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. At that time, it was not in an alliance with the JD(U). This shows that the BJP is capable of putting up a good performance even without JD (U)’s support. At present, the JD (U) needs BJP and not the other way round. However, Sushil Modi doesn’t really seem to understand that and therefore, BJP’s rise won’t be possible unless Sushil Modi brings about a remarkable shift in his leadership strategy or else the party will have to look at other leadership options in order to meet the changing political circumstances and needs of the state.