In a step to further corner Nitish Kumar, BJP has chosen Shahnawaz Hussain, an ardent opponent of the incumbent Chief Minister, as the Member of Legislative Council (MLC) candidate from Bihar. This is the return of Hussain into electoral politics of Bihar after his defeat in the 2014 general election from Bhagalpur constituency.
The party has already brought Sushil Modi, the coterie of Nitish, to the central leadership through Rajya Sabha. The two old leaders had a symbiotic relationship where both fed off each other and ensured that the status quo was maintained in the state. Sushil Modi kept sweeping Nitish Kumar’s blunders under the rug whereas ‘Sushashan Babu’ made sure that Sushil Modi had the lollipop of Deputy CM all along in his hands.
Further, the party-appointed two deputy chief ministers – Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi- both of whom are known for their anti-Nitish Kumar views- to keep the Chief Minister in check. In the Seventh Nitish Kumar Ministry, BJP has got Finance, Information Technology, Urban Development, Health, Road and Industry ministries among others. Although many of these ministries were already with BJP in the previous administration, Nitish Kumar wielded too much influence to allow any ministry to function independently.
One major change is in the Ministry of Industries, which was previously held by JD(U) leader Shyam Rajak- who left the party to join RJD- is that it is now under Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi.
For years Nitish Kumar tried to corner Shahnawaz Hussain and it was due to his opposition that the latter did not get the ticket in the 2019 general elections. Now BJP has brought back Hussain in Bihar politics to counter Nitish as well as to show him, who is in the driving seat in the government.
In the last few weeks, Nitish Kumar tried to push BJP by airing views against the saffron party. He also tried to play on the front foot by statements like I don’t want the CM chair. Previously, RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha met Nitish Kumar and the speculations were abuzz ever since then that Kumar is looking to find his crutches in Kushwaha.
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“There is a possibility of new political equations in Bihar after both the leaders met on Thursday. We have no regimen with NDA. Upendra Kushwaha and CM Nitish Kumar worked together in the past and if the NDA government will work on the line of social justice and welfare of the people of Bihar, we will go with it,” said Bhola Sharma, official spokesperson of RLSP to IANS.
However, the saffron party, instead of giving leeway to Nitish, pushed him further to the corner by bringing Shahnawaz Hussain in Bihar Legislative Council. Moreover, through the induction of Hussain, BJP is trying to target Muslim voters of the state, who constitute more than 20 per cent of the state’s population. Muslims have traditionally voted for RJD but a small section of the voter base also votes for the JD(U), and this is the section which the BJP is trying to target. Therefore, with the induction of Shahnawaz Hussain in the legislative council, BJP is shooting many birds with one stone.