Union Home Minister Amit Shah has put an end to speculations about the BJP and JDU parting their ways. Shah has made it clear that the JDU supremo, Nitish Kumar will remain the Chief Minister of the state after the Bihar legislative assembly polls next year.
In an interview to News18, Shah said, “The Janata Dal (United) and the BJP will go to polls together and we will fight polls under the leadership of Nitish Ji. This is absolutely clear.” With this, the Union Home Minister has not only ruled out any question of the BJP going solo in the state, but he has also made it clear that the JDU will remain the main coalition partner in the state and Nitish Kumar will remain the Chief Minister after the polls.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement comes virtually as a shocker given that the general mood of the BJP workers and supporters was against the BJP continuing to play second fiddle to the JDU in Bihar.
Last month, senior BJP leader and former Union minister Sanjay Paswan had echoed this popular sentiment and had said Nitish Kumar “should now move to the Centre” and leave Bihar to “BJP and the second-rung JDU leadership.”
The senior BJP leader and the party workers have legitimate reasons for making this demand. It must be noted that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s performance in the recent past has been rather mediocre and has failed to inspire much confidence. Moreover, during the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year, the BJP led NDA had put up a very good show winning all but one of the 40 seats in the state of Bihar. The coalition had obviously achieved such impressive results riding on PM Modi’s popularity.
As such it became clear that it is Nitish Kumar who needs the BJP, and not the other way around.
Giving the JDU, the bigger role in Bihar only because of it being the regional player does not make much sense. In Maharashtra, for example, the BJP has taken up the role of big brother with Shiv Sena relegating into the role of the junior coalition partner.
Last month a senior BJP leader had ruled out the question of a 50:50 seat-sharing agreement between the two parties and as per a recent India Today report, while BJP and its allies would be contesting on 164 seats in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena will contest from 124 seats.
The question which thus arises is why the Union Home Minister Amit Shah has chosen to continue with Nitish Kumar at the helm of affairs when the BJP itself quite popular in the state of Bihar and the Maharashtra model could have been suitably put in place.
It is not as if the BJP doesn’t have the necessary local leadership to match the present Bihar CM, whose performance has been rather mediocre and uninspiring, of late.
Nityanand Rai, for example, was being seen as someone of the same disposition as that of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar; quiet but dedicated leader, able administrator, who isn’t the most visible face but certainly a talented one. It was expected that the BJP would groom him for the big role. However, with the Union Home Minister, Shah made it clear that Nitish Kumar will remain the CM after assembly polls next year, it seems that the BJP has lost the plot in Bihar.
The sentiment of a young, energetic BJP leader replacing the present Bihar CM is not based on political convenience and expediency rather it is in the interest of the state. Nitish Kumar’s image of ‘Susashan Babu’ was largely seen as a counter of the Jungle Raj during the Lalu era. However, this doesn’t mean that the state of Bihar should set the bar low for itself. The state of Bihar has the immense growth potential that can be achieved only through inspiring and dedicated leadership. However, JDU’s poorly conceived poll slogan “Kyun Kare Vichar, Thike to hai Nitish Kumar” is not only politically defeatist but also tries to inculcate a sense of purposelessness and stagnancy in the state of Bihar. It doesn’t seem to offer development rather it tries to invoke a “laid-back” attitude.
This year, Nitish Kumar-led government’s inefficiency to tackle critical issues has come to the surface time and again. The Japanese Encephalitis outbreak that claimed the lives of several children exposed the ineptness of the health system in the state. Then the floods causing widespread devastation in the state once again brought the Nitish government under the scanner for its inefficient handling of the emergent situation. Now, with yet another imminent crisis in the form of a Dengue outbreak in the State capital, Patna, the state administration’s ability to deal with crises has come up yet again.
Bihar boasts of a dominating presence in history and enjoys the distinction of being one of the oldest cities in the world. With that said, Bihar has got extreme potential to encourage “Religious Tourism”. Religious sites such as Bodh Gaya, Rajgir Town, Nalanda, Shanti Stupa, Buddha Stupa and many religious sites of different faiths give Bihar great opportunity to encourage Religious Tourism which JDU has completely ignored for so long. The state is a modest pilgrim center, all wrapped in spirituality, rich history and culture.
It is in this background that the JDU wanted to push the ‘Theeke to hai Nitish Kumar (Nitish Kumar is all right)’ slogan. The state is being governed inefficiently and with this slogan, it has become clear that we can’t expect the Nitish Kumar led the government to make amends. The BJP by persisting with Nitish Kumar has lost the plot.
Nitish Kumar’s political untrustworthiness is no longer the only issue. By aligning with him, the BJP has ended up pushing an inefficient regime that has outlived its utility. By grooming a young, energetic leader to replace the present Bihar CM, the BJP could have brought about a much-needed change in Bihar but it seems that the big opportunity has been missed.