JD-U set to snap ties with BJP over Modi?
Fearing a backlash from its Muslim votebank, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar may sever its alliance with the saffron party
The elevation of Narendra Modi as chief of BJP’s campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls has cast its shadow on the party’s alliance government in Bihar with the JD-U appearing to make up its mind to walk out of the coalition. But the BJP maintained that the people of Bihar wanted the alliance to continue.
Senior Janata Dal-United leaders said in Patna that the party had made up its mind to snap the 17-year-old alliance with the BJP over the rise of Modi and a formal announcement was expected soon. “Only a formal announcement is to made for snapping the ties with the BJP,” said a senior JD-U leader, considered close to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
JD-U is against projecting Modi as a prime ministerial candidate of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance as he is seen as anti-Muslim and the party’s association with him could alienate Muslim voters in Bihar. Muslims constitute about 16.5 per cent of Bihar’s population.
“Till late Tuesday night, a number of party leaders, including ministers, held discussions with Nitish Kumar at his official residence and it was decided to formally announce the end of ties with the BJP in the next two to three days,” said the leader. JD-U president Sharad Yadav is expected to arrive in Patna by Friday for consultations with party leaders before a formal decision.
Senior JD-U leader and Bihar minister Shayam Razak said that his party was discussing the issue in view of developments at the BJP meet in Goa and later in Delhi. Modi was anointed campaign committee chief for 2014 elections on Sunday at BJP’s national executive in Goa, an appointment that will make him the main face of the party’s poll campaign. LK Advani resigned from key party posts a day later but relented following “advice” from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat.
All is well
In Delhi, BJP spokesperson Shanawaz Hussain sought to underplay remarks of JD-U leaders and said the alliance in Bihar was continuing. Hussain, a BJP MP from Bhagalpur in Bihar, said any break in ties will ruin hopes of the electorate. However, Bihar BJP leaders said they were prepared to sit in the opposition if JD-U snapped ties.
“BJP will sit in opposition and play a role of an aggressive opposition,” BJP leader and Bihar minister Chandra Mohan Rai told media persons. According to BJP leaders, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi had told party workers that BJP will not bow before JD-U to its demands concerning Modi.
JD-U leaders said that the Nitish Kumar government will not be under any threat even if the party ends its alliance with the BJP. The party needs the support of 122 legislators in a house of 243 to remain in power. “The JD-U already has 119 legislators. Most of the six Independent legislators are supporting the party and will extend support to carry on the government,” said a party leader.